Posts tagged #Foster-care

orphan hope.

listen. there's something i want to tell you. you need to know i'm really, really excited about this.

in february, russ & i will be traveling to nw arkansas for the !deacamp: orphan hope. we've been trying to get to !deacamps since they started two years ago in california. our friend charles lee, networker extraordinaire, had this vision of gathering like-minded people together for implementation of ideas through collaboration. the first camp was completely open sourced - everything was streamed via the internet and immediately a network was born.

russ & i were at the first !deacamp through live stream. we met incredible people like chris marlowdawn carterdan portnoy and dave ingland- people who have become like mentors to us during many, many transitions & struggles. i'm being serious when i say this: there is nothing like the camaraderie and community of the ideacamp.

over the past few years, they've tackled tough topics: reaching your community, social justice, sex....

in february, the conversation turns towards the least of these as we bend our ears to something that moves and mourns the heart of God. i cannot tell you how excited i am to be a part of this opportunity - to allow a further breaking and understanding to sink deep in my marrow. it's not enough for me to nod my head in agreement while reading a blog or wipe some tears after watching a video. those are magnificent tools, but it's time for me to get my hands dirty.

what about you?

Join us for fresh, honest and transformative conversations about Orphan Care & the Church with leading thinkers and practitioners on topics including US & International care, community development, trafficking of orphans, adoption, foster care, child sponsorship, special needs, cross-cultural & religious dynamics to care, and many more.

register here.

follow the conversation here.

join the conversation on twitter here.

see you in february?

foster care: relationships

"To give birth is incredible. To foster a child is divine." A foster mom told me this after a brief freak-out. This whole process - paperwork, studying, collecting data and preparing to be responsible for living and breathing but broken human beings - definitely overwhelms at times. And Thursday night, in the midst of documentation and stories of bio-families turning on foster parents and what you deal with on a day-to-day basis, my heart questioned just how much I was willing to put it through.

But see, here's the thing: it's not about me. Russ & I may deal with some feisty individuals - we may get some kids who have been through things we couldn't even imagine. But that's okay. If I truly believe rescue is possible - if I believe the story of redemption supersedes any of my preconceived notions - than my focus will not be on what I can or cannot gain from this experience.

My heart may be broken in this process. In fact, I pray it does. I pray my heart stays tender to the leadings of the Spirit. I pray I always stare into the eyes of those He has entrusted to me and see them as Christ sees them. I pray I forget about my comfort - if for just a second - to remember the comfort of others is more important.

I have no idea who God will place in our home. There are still months left before we can even consider finishing the process. But this past week I was able to take a deep breath and place a lot of questions at the throne. He knows who needs to be with us - whether for a season or forever. He knows when it will happen and how. He already knows the story - and He already loves them. And this is absolutely beautiful to me.

So, over these next few months there are a few things you can be praying:

  • Over the past few months, Russ has been approached with some solid leads concerning jobs. Our prayer is that he hears - and soon - about a job that fits his heart for people and food. We don't want just any job. We want him to be where God leads - anything less will be second best and will most likely cause him to be miserable.
  • Our lease ends in May. Currently we live in a one bedroom apartment. We are looking in a specific area on Austin and have a few houses on our radar. Wisdom about exactly where is crucial - our search is highly intentional.
  • That God would begin to prepare our hearts. Currently, we are undecided about age group/specific level/"adoptability" - my prayer is that Russ and I would be in complete agreement.

These next few months will certainly be crazy, but absolutely breathtaking. I can't wait to see how God will move. For now, we will take the next step...ever so timidly...and trust in His provision.

Posted on March 28, 2010 and filed under adoption.

foster care training - documentation

It's been awhile since I've updated about foster-care training. And, we're still in the training - no worries. It's just been...hectic. To say the least. So.

Yesterday we talked about documentation.

This is something I'm incredibly familiar with - being a teacher. Everything we do has to be documented. Talked to a parent? Write it down. Held a student after class? Write it down. There's a simple rule with administration: if you don't have it written somewhere, it didn't happen. It's grueling, really. I hate this part of my job. I hate spending time at my computer - scrolling through notes I've taken throughout the year. I became a teacher to work with kids - not push paper.

But. Even though I hate it, I recognize the importance. I understand not only does it help others understand what goes on in my classroom - it protects me. Many times I've written something down about a student, and when a parent comes back questioning my tactics or something the student said when he/she got home, I'm able to pull out my documentation and show them. Suddenly, the argument is null.

I knew going into this training that it would be a lot of work. I gathered that simply by the packet given to us the first night: it's huge. And so much of it - the application, the ministry profile, the background check and fingerprints and TB tests and homestudy and fire/health inspection...I mean - overwhelming.

But. Just like with my job, I understand the paperwork.

We were told last night - if it's not written down, it didn't happen. This supersedes anything I've ever done for my job. If a kid takes medicine, and I forget to write down the time I gave him/her the pill, and then CPS shows up - I can be cited.

Not gonna lie. This is intimidating. I will be the first to admit that I like to be organized. I want to know where everything is - especially within my classroom. In my house? Well. Perhaps it's because we live in a one bedroom apartment, but we are less than organized at the moment. Just thinking about all of this paperwork on top of what I'm doing at the moment makes me twitch a little. But I also know if this is truly where God has us - He will give us the ability.

So. Our homework for this week is fill out some paperwork as if we have children in our home. Should be interesting. We still really haven't pinpointed the ages we are considering. Honestly, some days we think "sure, we can do older kids..." and other days we think, "oh man. in order to keep our sanity we should just stick with the younger kids..."

Do I sound confused? Disjointed? Perhaps a little scatterbrained? Yeah. Welcome to my world. Maybe some day I'll seem a little more lucid. For now, though...I need to giggle at The Office.

Posted on March 22, 2010 and filed under adoption.

separation, loss & grief

We started our paperwork last week. And I know this picture shows absolutely nothing of the stress that COULD be involved - I'm happy to say we finished the first part of our application without any grief. Looking at what's left though - it's easy to get overwhelmed. So I'll shut the binder for a little while and just reflect on last night's class...

The first night was so encouraging. I mean, a whole classroom full of people who care for the orphan and feel the urgency to step in and do something - absolutely amazing. One of those "you're not crazy" moments and a complete confirmation we are at where we need to be right now. Last night though...last night was rough.

We talked about separation, loss and grief. Heavy topics for anyone. I see a lot of these within my own students. Detachment. Depression. Lack of concentration. Last year, a student died while in jail. Shook the entire junior class to the core. I had kids coming to me all day weeping - wondering what to do, how to act, what to say...it's a hard moment realizing life comes all too quickly for these kids.

And it's no different in the foster care system. I was reminded last night these kids are ripped from their homes. A huge majority don't want to leave. They want the abuse to stop or the mom to quit seeing the boyfriend or the dad to quit drinking the alcohol...but they want home. And our place - regardless of how we view it - is just not home. So, not only will these kids be coming to us with emotional issues - a lack of trust in adults or fear of abandonment - they will also be dealing with a newness they were not anticipating.

That's tough to swallow.

But I am swallowing it. Slowly.

I'm still not sure why God has us in this class. I'm not asking too many questions, really. I know we are called to adopt. I know he wants us in this class. But will I be able to mother a baby or little one only to give it back to the birth-parents? Not sure. Just being honest...but the excitement is still there; the expectation still high. And the meeting wasn't completely negative.

Because there's hope. I keep remembering the truth that God's heart for these kids who are abandoned, neglected or orphaned is so much bigger than my own. He knows. He sees. And however this particular chapter of our journey ends - through respite care or fostering a child or moving towards adoption - He is capable of preparing our hearts.

So week #2 is over. There's honestly more questions than answers. I'm overwhelmed, but not throwing in the towel. I've never felt more at peace about being right where I'm at with Russ. There's a certain beauty in waiting and staying faithful. It may not make sense. People may think we're crazy or inconsistent.

Really all we're doing is leaning on Him.

Posted on February 22, 2010 and filed under adoption.

first steps

i'm not sure where our story begins. at least not in the traditional sense. you have the standard story: boy meets girl. boy and girl fall in love. boy and girl gets married, have kids, buy a home and live happily ever after. in case you haven't noticed, we typically shy away from tradition.

there are certain moments in each of our lives pointing to this beginning: my trip to Haiti. working with Invisible Children. meeting friends for life who shuck the status quo.

Russ is much of the same, but his core is different. for him, it just makes sense. (and this is why i love him so.) he knows what it's like to gain a father who chose him. he knows what its like to share everything but blood. plus, with over 140 million orphans in the world, he can't rectify not doing something. (like i said. this is why i love him.)

and so the process of allowing God to build our family began. two years ago James 1:27 began to rise up and tap me on the shoulder. it was simple yet convicting. what had i done to bring hope for the orphan? what had i done to comfort the widow? how had i let the world's standard of acceptability and normalcy corrupt me? i began to realize there was no choice. adoption is in our very veins as Christians. we are adopted. we were forgotten and left alone and orphaned and hurting. God in his mercy adopted us as his children. we were rescued.

i couldn't get away from it. people in my twitter stream started mentioning their own pursuit of adoption, i'd get in the car and the radio program would be talking about adoption. i'd pick up the paper and some lady was featured about her recent adoption. i'd go read a friend's blog and realize she was adopted...it was everywhere. so i prayed. i started reading blogs and praying for those going through the process. i started praying for Russ and me - believing when the time was right - God would let us know. he began placing countries on my heart: uganda, haiti and india at the top of the list. for awhile, i assumed international adoption would be the only way we'd go. until recently. slowly, he began opening my eyes to the need nearby. in Travis County there are 174 kids waiting for adoption. waiting. never before had i considered domestic adoption. i was now. i prayed and waited and prayed some more - knowing i wanted to be ready.

yesterday we took our first steps.

we began the foster/foster-adopt training at Austin Stone and i couldn't be more excited. we don't know what's going to come of this training. logistically, we aren't at a place to take in any kids. a small, one-bedroom apartment isn't necessarily conducive to the whole home-study section of any adoption process, but we know God is bigger and his heart for adoption exceeds our limits and expectations.

so. whether we are in this training to prepare our hearts for some precious little one God has predestined as our son/daughter or whether we are in this training to gain more knowledge about the process and offer hope and comfort and rest for those going through with it, we are ready.

first steps have never looked so huge.

Posted on February 16, 2010 and filed under adoption, fluttering pulses.