Why Foster Teens?

 

The attitudes. The cell phones. The hormones. Are these things that come to mind when you think of teens in foster care? It’s true — all teens, whether in foster care or not, can be challenging. Being a foster care parent to teens is hard, but it is also incredibly rewarding.

Plus, teens also come with great perks:

  • Teens are independent.
  • You can sleep in on weekends.
  • Date nights can happen without a babysitter.
  • Teens can babysit.
  • You get to teach valuable adult life skills.
  • They love structure.
  • They get to see a healthy, loving family.
  • You can help stop a cycle.
  • They’ll remember what you did for them forever.
  • You can help them rebuild trust in adults.
  • You get to help them envision a positive future.
  • Did I mention the extra sleep?

If you’re considering fostering teens, you’ve probably got a lot of questions, uncertainties, and fears. You may feel unprepared. That’s normal and it’s OK. What a teen in foster care needs most is love, acceptance, and grace — they just need someone to show up for them and a place to feel safe.

Here are a few tips for fostering teens:

  • Make boundaries, expectations, and rules clear from the start.
  • Meet them where they are, not where you think they should be.
  • Offer gentle nudges in the “right” direction.
  • Give them their own space to unpack, process, and feel things.
  • Always be honest and keep open communication.
  • Allow them to open up to you in their own time.
  • Don’t take things personally.

The need is great for foster families who are willing to say “Yes” to a teen. More teens need a loving and stable home than any other age range. These teens need and want a place to call home, a consistent place to celebrate holidays and milestones, and a place to feel safe and wanted. Many teens have to stay in a DSS office while a home is found for them, often missing school or other important events while they wait in limbo. Will you see the value in these amazing young adults? Will you step out on faith and say “Yes” to making a world of difference in the life of a teen?

If you aren’t quite ready to welcome a teen into your home long-term, there are many other ways to help, such as:

  • Offer emergency and short-term placement in your home.
  • Become a mentor to a teen in foster care.
  • Support a teen by becoming a Guardian ad Litem (GAL).
  • Initiate a fundraiser for local foster care organizations.
  • Volunteer in a group home for teens.
  • Provide meals for foster families.

The possibilities of ways you can help teens in foster care are endless. 

Every teen is unique and has individual needs, strengths, hopes, and fears. But each teen is worthy of love and worthy of the chance to bless your family. If you’re ready to find out more about how you can support teens by fostering or through other ways, your foster care community is here to support you every step of the way.

Compassion Fatigue in Fostering

 

It’s ok to say no…

 

People make the decision to be foster parents for many different reasons.  Many of those reasons come back to one core reason, the desire to help a child.  If you’ve made the decision to foster or are considering fostering, chances are good that you are compassionate.  That compassion is what drives you to step in a fill the gap in a child’s life.  It drives you to provide a loving, nurturing, and stable environment for the children in your care.

 

Despite the complexities of caring for children from tough backgrounds and the frustrations of dealing with the red tape of the foster care system, it is likely that you love what you do as a foster parent.  I’ve heard it said that foster parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love and in my own experience that is 100% true.  It is a tough job (one of the toughest), but that compassion keeps driving you forward.  But, without learning to set boundaries and say no, that compassion can drive you right to compassion fatigue.

 

Compassion fatigue refers to an identifiable set of negative psychological symptoms that caregivers experience as a result of providing care while being exposed to either primary trauma (experiencing the trauma firsthand) or secondary trauma (rendering care to those experiencing trauma).  -Charles Figley

 

When we experience compassion fatigue we can’t care well for ourselves or the children in our care.  As a foster parent, you can’t go home and leave the worries of your job at work. Your home is your place of work, caring for these children is your job.  A study conducted by the University of Bristol’s Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies found that with appropriate support and regular “time-outs” foster parents are less likely to experience compassion fatigue.

 

Simply stated, it’s ok to say no!  Say no to the placement that you don’t think your family is equipped to care for.  Say no to the placement when your family needs to grieve the loss of the child that recently left you.  Say no to taking a placement when you feel you need a few days to regroup from your last placement.  Say no when your kids need a few days with you all to themselves.  It’s ok!  Your Nightlight Foster Care Advocate understands.  You need to be healthy and refreshed.  Your cup has to be filled or you will have nothing to pour out to your foster kids.  Just say no and give your family and your future foster kids the best you!

Self-Care for Foster Parents

 

If you are a foster parent, you have the innate desire to care for others. If you did not have that desire, you would have not have spent months going through several interviews and preparing your home to care for a child that you have never met. It is such a gift to have some many wonderful individuals and families opening up their homes to provide love, safety, and security to children in need. Children in foster care have experienced various kinds of trauma and often have several needs. Your foster child may have a doctor’s appointment today, visitation with a biological parent tomorrow, and therapy the day after that. Schedules can get busy and things can be hard to juggle. As a foster parent, it can be easy to neglect your own needs in order to make sure that the needs of your children are met. While taking care of your children is important, it is important to prioritize yourself and your needs as well. Here are some tips to help you practice self-care as a foster parent.

  • Find a Hobby: Find activities that you enjoy and make time to do them every day, even if it is just for a few minutes. Maybe you can take a quick jog around the neighborhood, read a book, journal your thoughts, or do a craft project. The possibilities are limitless. Find what re-energizes you and make it a priority. When you take time for yourself, you will be able to care for your children better.
  • Take Care of your needs: You are probably already running in several directions and have several appointments that you have to keep track of for your children, but make sure that you are making time for your needs as well. Do you have an appointment for yourself that you have been putting off? Do you desperately need a haircut, but you do not feel that you have any time for that? Make your needs a priority and give yourself permission to care of yourself. When your needs are met, you are better able to provide for the needs of your children.
  • Use Respite Care: Take a night or weekend off. Find trusted friends or family members that are willing to watch your children for a few hours. If you are married, take a date night. It is important for you to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse. If you are single, take a night to yourself or go do an activity with your friends. Having a few hours to regroup, can be helpful to your emotional well-being.
  • Ask for Help: It is okay to ask for help when you need it. Find people that you trust, and let them know what you need. Several people are willing to help, but do not know what to do. Whether you need someone to watch your children for a couple of hours so you can go to an appointment or need help finding a good pediatrician or child facility, do not be afraid to ask. Also, make sure that you are communicating with your foster care worker. Let them know about your questions, concerns, and frustrations. Your foster care worker is there to help and support you.
  • Join a Support Group: Find a foster care group and join it. Several churches and community organizations have started groups specifically for foster parents. If you are a Nightlight Foster Family, our offices plan specific groups and events for foster parents as well. Contact your foster care advocate for more information. Groups are a great opportunity gain additional support and to connect with others that are going through the same process.

Being a foster parent is not always easy, but it is very rewarding. When things get hard, take a breath and remind yourself why you do what you do. Take time for yourself, take care of your needs, and ask for help and support when you need it. As a foster parent, you are doing great work and the love and compassion that you have for the kids in your care does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all that you do for the children that need you.

Joe and Teri Beattie receive Bright Lights Award

The Board of Directors of Nightlight Christian Adoptions established the “Bright Lights Award” which is given in recognition of a commitment to adoption which inspires others to adopt, advocates for adoption, or makes a great sacrifice in adoption. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The fifth recipient of the Bright Lights award is Joe and Teri Beattie

In the midst of Nightlight’s most difficult financial year ever, Joe and Teri gave sacrificially to ensure the agency finished 2021 “in the black.”  Their generosity enabled us to continue funding the Renewed Hope program, which helps adoptive families from any agency find assistance in the midst of crisis.

 

 

How to Honor Your Child’s Birth Mother on Mother’s Day

 

Mother’s Day is a very complicated and emotionally loaded time for many women. There are those that long for children but for many different reasons find themselves childless. There are those that mourn the early death of their child whether prenatally or after birth. There are also those who mourn for mothers they have lost, and then there is your child’s birth mother. Mother’s Day is often times a bittersweet reminder for birth mothers of the children they are not parenting. This season reminds them of the grief and loss they have had to endure since placing for adoption and often times birth mothers are overlooked on Mother’s Day.

As an adoptive parent, you have the responsibility to include and/or commemorate your child’s birth mother on or around Mother’s Day. Whether you want to admit it or not, your adopted child has two moms and both are worthy to be celebrated. Your child is also very likely thinking about their birth mother around this time regardless of whether you choose to celebrate her or not. How you handle moments like Mother’s Day will impact your child’s comfort level and felt safety in being able to process their complicated emotions around their adoption story. No matter what your child’s adoption story looked like, a birth mother’s decision to place for adoption is rooted in the most selfless motivation a parent can ever make. She chose life and she chose a life with you all as her child’s parents. That alone is worthy to be celebrated!

Here are some creative ways your family can include your child’s birth mother on Birth Mother’s Day:

  • Celebrate her on Birth Mother’s Day (May 7th)!
  • Ask her! Check with her and see if there are any ways she would enjoy being celebrated.
  • Schedule a visit with her around Mother’s Day.
  • You and your adopted child can go pick out a gift to send to her.
  • Have flowers delivered to her.
  • Have your adopted child write a card/color a photo for her.

If contact with your adopted child’s birth mother is not a reality, there are still so many ways that you can creatively celebrate her. This also allows your child a natural and healthy time to process and talk through their adoption story—an opportunity that is not as often granted to them as naturally as children who have open relationships with their birth parents. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • If you have created an adoption story Lifebook, pull it out and talk through it with your child.
  • If you received any personal information about your child’s birth mother, go do something on that day that she enjoyed doing!
  • Purchase a plant or flower bush to plant at your home together with your child to honor her.

Regardless of what your relationship with your adopted child’s birth mother looks like, it is important your child knows she is worthy to be celebrated and their adoption story is rooted in love and selflessness. These simple gestures and acts will mean more to your child and their birth mother than you will ever know.

By: Katy Clasquin

2022 National Infertility Awareness Week

 

One out of 8 families are or will face infertility. Infertility is a disease—it does not discriminate between gender, ethnicity, or age. Wherever you are in your journey, navigating through infertility can feel very lonely and isolating. Whether you find yourself wanting to do more research on infertility or wanting a place to connect with others going through similar situations, there are a number of resources available!

  • reproductivefacts.org: This website is run by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. There is a plethora of information including webinars, blogs, news, and research. They also have their own podcast, ASRM Today.
  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association runs the RESOLVE website. They have financial resources, educational information, and community support.
  • NIH: The National Institutes of Health has a lot of nitty gritty information on infertility. If you are interested in reading studies and research, this is the website for you!
  • Embryo Adoption Awareness Center: This website has numerous videos, webinars, and blogs on a variety of topics concerning embryo donation or adoption. Check it out!

Receiving a diagnosis of infertility can be really daunting and scary. You don’t have to journey alone. Starting with these resources can give you guidance and is a great place to start!

Many families discover embryo adoption as they are researching different methods of family building in the midst of infertility. To learn more, visit our website or call our Colorado office at 970-578-9700.

 

By: Nicole Longinow

Unique Fundraising Ideas for your Adoption

 

Don’t let money be the reason you give up on your adoption dreams! There are endless ways to approach raising the money needed to pursue your adoption of choice. This post contains just a few of the ways you can begin (or continue) your fundraising journey.

 

Adoption T-Shirt Fundraiser

Design a T-Shirt that represents a piece of your adoption journey. If you are pursuing international adoption from Colombia, maybe include a map of Colombia with an arrow pointing to your home state. If you are pursuing a Snowflakes Embryo Adoption, include cute snowflake pictures. The ideas are endless! Sell your T-Shirts to family and friends for $30. All proceeds go towards funding your adoption.

 

GotSneakers?

This is a unique organization that helps families fund their adoptions through sneaker donations. Have friends, family, or even people you don’t know, donate their used sneakers. GotSneakers will buy them from you for $7 dollars a pair! Everyone has old sneakers laying around collecting dust. Collect them, give them a quick clean, and send them in. 150 pairs would raise $1,050!

 

Host a Benefit Concert
American Adoptions says, “Do you have any friends in a local band? Are you in a local band? Could you be in a local band? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you can throw a benefit concert for your adoption. Charge admission, or pass a basket and ask for donations during the show.” This is a great way to connect with people and share your story. You can even share about your journey towards adoption at the beginning, end, or during intermission.

 

The thought of fundraising can be intimidating. You may be tempted to assume that NO ONE will want to help you with your adoption journey; that is certainly NOT true. Your friends and families may not feel called adopt, but you do! Helping you fundraise can be a great way for them to support adoption even though they may not be able to do it themselves. If fundraising still feels overwhelming, Nightlight offers our clients our Family Resource Specialist, Camie Schuiteman, who will counsel each family on fundraising, grants, and other ways to gather the adoption service fees for your adoption. Also check out our Funding Your Adoption page on our website.

How the Beauty of Easter Reflects Adoption

 

During this Spring season, we see flowers blooming and everything that was dead during the winter months sprouting to new life. For Christians, it is also the time of surrender and sacrifice through the reminder of Easter and the weeks and traditions leading up to it, such as Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Palm Sunday. But what does this time have to do with adoption, and how can we think of adoption in the terms of the cross?

What does scripture say?

In John 3:3, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Because of the cross, and Jesus sacrificing His life for our sins, we are able to be born again and are given a new life. In adoption, children are also able to begin a new life as a child in your family. Adoption is a picture of how brokenness on earth, and our humble beginnings, can be made beautiful and used for good.

We are reminded again in Psalm 37:18 of God’s provision and care; “Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.” Through adoption, children receive an inheritance on earth. Through a relationship with Christ, we have all received an eternal inheritance and life with Jesus.

What does this mean to me?

With this in mind, Easter can be a time of celebration; a celebration of warmer weather, of Christ’s resurrection and of your child becoming a new part of your family, whether their adoption occurred weeks, months, or many years ago. One way to honor your child during this time is through pointing out the consistencies in their own stories with the story God wrote for us as believers in Jesus and his death on the cross.

For those of you who are still waiting for your adopted child, who are currently fostering, or maybe you are just about to begin the process, Easter is a beautiful reminder to all of us of our worth and the freedom we have in Jesus because of his resurrection. Because of Him, we are all accepted into a forever family in heaven. That alone is a reason to celebrate with a heart full of gratitude.

 

I want to end this with a section of a poem by Deborah Ann called Abba – My Father;

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I could be . . .

 

An heir to salvation,

a daughter of light

a child that brings

to Him great delight.

 

I’m no longer an orphan,

I’m no longer a stray

I’ve inherited a room

in His mansion I’ll stay.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I can be free . . .

 

Free from the guilt,

of my wandering ways

free from the darkness

that once filled my days.

 

The adoption became final,

that day on the Cross

when Jesus died for me

and all those who are lost.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I might see . . .

 

See His glory,

in the middle of my pain

see His grace fall

like sweet drops of rain.

 

The inheritance is mine,

I’m claiming my right

and now I have privilege

to His power and might.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family,

I willingly flee . . .

 

Reference

Ann, Deborah. “ABBA My Father.” CHRISTian Poetry, 31 May 2013, https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/abba-my-father/.

 

By: Paige Burch

The Journey of Adoption: An Adoptee’s Perspective

 

When talking about adoption I often hear it referred to as a journey. When I think about a journey I think about something that is ongoing with no definitive end. One of the definitions for the word journey is “passage or progress from one stage to another.” I think it is that definition of the word journey that best describes the journey of adoption. You see, adoption is not a one-time thing. It is not just the event that happens on the day that your child is placed with you. It is an ongoing journey that morphs and changes with time.

I was brought home from the hospital at just a few days old. Having been adopted in the 80’s there was little information provided regarding my birth family. I know their ages and that is about it. My parents have always been open and honest about the fact that I was adopted and have always been supportive of me searching for my birth family or not. To be quite honest, I was never the kid who asked a lot of questions about my adoption; it never bothered me. I have always been secure in who I am and who my parents are and never really struggled with the fact that I was adopted.

In graduate school I decided it might be interesting to search for my birth family so I made some initial inquiries and found out in Pennsylvania it was not an easy process, for my type of adoption, to initiate a search. I let it go at the time and moved on. Then in 2016, I was ready and I wanted to know where I came from. Where did I get my green eyes, my nose, what was my ethnic heritage, did I have any similar traits to my birth mother? So I began with the attorney who facilitated my adoption. He claimed to have no recollection of the adoption. Next I went to the courts (still called orphan court in Pennsylvania) and was told they had no records based on the little information I had. As a final recourse I decided to try Ancestry DNA and, besides now knowing my ethnic heritage, I struck out again.

Now let’s talk about August 2020; 11:37 p.m. on Friday, August 7, 2020 to be exact. The night that a Facebook message popped up on my phone. In that moment I read that a woman had an Ancestry DNA match that listed me as a “close relative” and she had been searching for her sister for years who had been adopted and could I possibly be that person. The answer, YES.

As I began talking with my sister, birth mother, two other sisters, and brother (yes there are 4 siblings) life got real. You learn things that are both exciting and hard. You learn that your birth father wanted you to be aborted. You learn that your birth mother stood up to her own family in order to carry you to term. You learn that your birth mother, on the day you turned 18, contacted the aforementioned attorney to give them her information in case I ever contacted him, which clearly he did not pass on to me when I did indeed contact him. It is realizing that my siblings grew up drastically different from me and experiencing feelings of guilt and relief that my life was different. Adoption is a journey. I am slowly getting to know the family that shares my blood. I love seeing what we have in common while also learning about our uniqueness.

This relationship continues to be a journey, something that is growing and changing over time. I remember when I first posted my story, when I was ready, on Facebook. A friend asked what would make me want to share this story publicly. An easy answer was that it was a quick way to let friends (beyond those I had told in person) what was going on in my life. The more in depth answer is that I feel that often the adoptee voice is forgotten and I wanted to share my journey, the good and bad; the joyous and the heartbreaking. I cannot speak for every adoptee out there. We each have our own unique story and journey. And while it is oftentimes beautiful no one can forget that each adoptee’s story began with loss and eventually that loss is going to emerge. I am not sure how the journey will continue but I can say that I am beyond blessed to be on it.

By: Rebekah Hall