Let’s Be Outraged

There is so much going on in the world right now…and many Christians are so passionate about it all. Understandably so.

But do you know what I’ve been thinking about the past month?

If only half of the people who are so passionate about,(whatever the current Christian topic of the day), could get behind foster care and adoption, what could we do together?

If just a fraction of the people would post a status about the foster care crisis in Arkansas, we could raise so much awareness of the need.

If only there were a flag or colors for the cause of foster care that we could fly or light up the White House with, or change our profile picture to, just think of what that could say to the children languishing in our foster care system today?

We know you’re there.

We see you.

We care.

If I've learned anything from adopting, it's that I need Jesus more every day.

If I’ve learned anything from adopting, it’s that I need Jesus more every day.

And yet, many times we don’t. You see, most of the time, it’s easy to throw our support for a cause one direction or another. One status update, and we can feel as though we have done our part. We share a status and feel like we’ve accomplished something. If we’re really invested in the cause, we might even write our legislature. But foster care and adoption is one of those uneasy things that we don’t like to speak out for. It’s one of those things we only whisper about. Probably because it requires more of an investment than just a status update or an occasional heated Facebook argument. It’s not an easy thing. It’s one of those life-changing, I’ll-never-be-the-same-again type things.

But, oh, how I wish to one day, open up my Facebook to see a row of status updates about the need for foster families. Oh, how I would love to see my Twitter full of resources for foster care. How I would love to see a White House press conference addressing the orphan crisis.

You see, this is not going to go away. No, it’s just going to get worse. As more and more parents trade their God-given responsibilities privileges for drugs and selfishness, as more parents experience the despair of poverty, more and more children will need us. Our country will continue to create adults who have never had a family, or a home, that have lived their entire lives not really knowing the love of another person.  What kind of a future will that be for them?  We are already seeing the effects of children raising themselves through little to no guidance and instead of reaching out to the children we complain about their parents. Ideally, the church steps up to care for these children.

 But will we be there?

I struggled with this post…I struggled a lot. You see, I know the cost. We are an adoptive family, recently adopting a precious 8 year old boy. I live with the cost of fostering and adoption every day. And you know what breaks my heart the most?

That I can’t take more.

Christians should be upset about this.  We should be writing status updates about this.  We should be heartbroken.

Christians should be upset about this. We should be writing status updates about this. We should be heartbroken.

Every day, I get e-mails and messages stating that a child or children have been taken from a home and need placement. At this point, there are no more homes to place the children in, so these children are literally sleeping in the DHS office.  Sometimes, I wish that these e-mails were sent out as mass e-mails so everyone could read them every day.  I wonder if that would move hearts.  I get so discouraged because I see people in my own county more concerned about adopting and sheltering the stray animals in our community than the children. (And yes, I know it’s a worthy cause…but  our children have even more worth). I sat with my boys the other day with a heavy heart, and told them about the foster care crisis in Arkansas. And this is what I had to say to their suggestions:

That would be wonderful, but your room isn’t big enough to house any more children.

Well, we aren’t in a place financially to build on to our house yet, but I pray that it will be soon.

No, we can’t let kids sleep in our barn…DHS wouldn’t like that.

I don’t know why there aren’t more open homes ready to take children. We need to pray about that.

I know it’s scary. But being a Christian is a little scary. God sometimes often asks us to do things that are out of our comfort zone. He does that so we can learn that we don’t live life in our own power. If I’ve learned anything from adopting, it’s that I need Jesus more every day.  I fail on a daily basis.  I told Tim the other day that I wish that people knew how inadequate I am at this adoptive parent thing so we could all be inadequate together.  No one comes with all the knowledge needed to do this.  That’s why Christians must take up the cause.  Sin has created this problem and as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.  Good people have done nothing for this problem and 100 kids to 1 home in my county means that evil is winning. 

First, let me say, thank you…thank you for reading this. The first step is awareness. The next step is prayer. Pray about what God would have you do. Pray about each one of these areas, and ask God if it would be His will for you and your family.

Every day around our state, children find themselves in foster care.  They need a home.  Can you share yours?

Every day around our state, children find themselves in foster care. They need a home. Can you share yours?

1. Foster Family: This is the greatest need in Arkansas right now. We have more children entering the system than ever before. Because of this, we are out of homes. We need people to train to be foster families. With The Call, it requires paperwork and two weekend training sessions.

2. Adoptive Family: There are lots of waiting children in Arkansas. Children waiting for you to say, “Welcome Home!” Adopting from the foster care system in Arkansas is completely free. To look at the faces who are waiting for forever families, visit Project Zero.

3. CASA Volunteer: These are individuals who work with one to two foster children at a time as an advocate for the child. They visit the child and assist the court in determining the child’s best interest.  Click here to learn more.

4. The CALL: We truly have an exceptional ministry in The CALL. And yet, few people in my county have ever heard of it. The CALL trains and supports foster and adoptive families. There are many positions within the CALL, including trainers, people to cook food for families and training sessions, CALL MALL volunteers, county coordinators, church representatives….the list goes on and on and on.

5. Steadies: Our adoptive son voiced to us recently that he feels like a basketball being bounced from one house to another, constantly having to learn new rules and new people, and new things. It broke my heart… our son loves basketball and comparing himself to a basketball was a deep philosophical metaphor for his life. This made me realize that our foster kids need steady people in their life. One family we know picks up a certain foster child for the weekend, and has for the past several years. Through various foster homes and even adoption, this family has been a steady for that child. What a gift!

6. Educate: Let’s stop whispering about foster care. Let’s shout from the rooftops that there are children in our country, in our state, who need help! Write status updates about it. Educate yourself. Find out more.

There is something for everyone. And guess what? It takes everyone. I fear that the message we are sending our children these days is,

YOU AREN’T IMPORTANT

This isn’t true…I know that no one truly feels that way, but when we as Christians don’t take up the cause of orphans, that is exactly the message we are sending. If we don’t care about them when they are children, why would they ever walk in our doors as an adult? And then the cycle will continue. You might think that children don’t pick up on these themes, but they do. I promise. You don’t volunteer in your Children’s Department at church…they notice. You don’t spend time with them one-on-one at home…they notice. You don’t take them into your home when they don’t have a home….they notice. You don’t speak for them when you could….they notice.

Ninety-seven children from my county are currently in foster care…and we have one foster home. Do you know what that tells me? It tells me that we aren’t doing enough. We aren’t outraged about this…we should be! Christians should be upset about this. We should be writing status updates about this. We should be heartbroken.

Will you be heartbroken with me? Will you stand with me and start shouting from the rooftops that these children need us?

Will you?

You can begin by tweeting or sharing this blog post. And then tomorrow, post something else about orphan care. The next day, visit the Heart Gallery. The next day, go check out The CALL. After that, look up CASA. Then, go check out ImmerseArkansas. Oh, and don’t forget Project Zero.  Look at the faces of these real children who just need a home.  Talk to and meet foster and adoptive children and realize that they are sweet and beautiful children who do not deserve to be treated like a basketball.   One more….Jason Johnson and ALL IN is a great resource to learn more about Orphan Care.

There’s no reason and no excuse for the church not to be THE MAJOR ADVOCATE involved in orphan care.

James 1:27

“But religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

Fighting for Widows

I think I married one of the sweetest men on Earth, if not THE sweetest. He has a local plumbing company, and he goes out on service calls all day, every day. Many days, he has a list of things to get to that is far longer than humanly possible to accomplish. Many nights, he will come home just as we are finishing up dinner, sometimes later. But, no matter how long his list is, or how late he may be to dinner that evening, he always takes extra time at the homes of older widows and widowers just talking with them. Every week, he brings me a list of people that he wants the kids and I to visit or start writing.

He tells me so tenderly about how lonely they seem, how much they have to think about and take care of by themselves, and how much he wishes he could help more. His compassion for widows is what completes the second part of one of my favorite verses:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

-James 1:27

Today is National Widow's Day.  Here are some ways we can honor widows in our country and pray for widows around the world.

Today is National Widow’s Day. Here are some ways we can honor widows in our country and pray for widows around the world.

Today is National Widow’s Day. In our own country, widows are sometimes overlooked. We forget that widows and widowers are many times lonely and need more help than they are getting. We forget to reach out to them. Today is a great day to remember. Here are a few ways to look after those who have lost their mate:

  1. Take a meal. Sometimes when people are alone, they don’t cook as much. They would sure appreciate a home cooked meal…or any meal shared with a bustling, busy family.
  2. Pen Pal: I began writing an older woman at our local nursing home about a year ago now, and we have become great pen pals. I keep her up to date on all that’s happening in our family, and she sends the kids coloring pages and letters. It is so fun for all of us. Sometimes, when you are being a blessing to someone, it’s YOU who ends up feeling blessed!
  3. Regular Visits: My kids and I go see my grandmother every other week. We go down and spend a couple of hours with her, just visiting. My sister and I used to visit an elderly woman when we were young. My mom would take us over, and we would talk and then because she was losing her eyesight, but loved books, my sister would read aloud to her.
  4. The Gift of Time: Don’t make the mistake of assuming all widows/widowers are older.  Many are young…too young.  Many have children.  For younger widows with small children, the gift of time might be just what they need. Take them out to coffee, or baby-sit their children.  Also, ministering to their children can be a huge spirit-lifter to a weary parent trying to do it all.  They worry about their children, so help ease their worries by investing into their children.  Be a pen pal to their kids, spend time with their kids, etc.
  5. Home Care: House maintenance and lawn care is difficult for those living alone. See what you can do to help.
  6. Make them part of your family: We get way too caught up in “blood family” sometimes. I think anyone can minister to and take care of others. The proof of that is in the many families around the world adopting children. (Isn’t it interesting how God’s Word always mentions widows and orphans together?) You can take people in-even into your home-and care for them as if they were your family even if they are not blood-related. So do that if you feel lead…invite widows and widowers to your home often and on special holidays. Help to take care of them.

It’s tough being a widow in our country, but it’s brutal being a widow in Asia. For over 40 million widows in South Asia, life is a daily struggle for survival. In Asian cultures, widows are many times blamed for their husband’s death, so they are shunned from their families, and despised by their community.

“Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” -Isaiah 1:17 (NLT)

Let's honor widows in our country and pray for those around the world.

Let’s honor widows in our country and pray for those around the world.

This is a short video about a widow in South Asia, Netramani. Hear her story, and lift her and all the other widows up in prayer as they face their reality each day.  If you can help to lighten the burden, please do just that.

To pray for widows in South Asia:

1.  Pray that they will know Jesus as their Savior.

2.  Pray that they will draw their strength from the Lord

3.  Pray that other Christians will come alongside them and minister to them

4.  Pray for God to meet their needs

Visit Gospel for Asia to learn more here.

Thanks, Mom and Dad

I don’t really know how it was that God saw fit for me to have the parents that I have. There are many times that I feel that I just don’t deserve them, especially when I look around and see that so many around me don’t have parents like mine. My parents gave me gifts that even now, in my 30’s, I’m still discovering.

Thanks, Mom and Dad

Thanks, Mom and Dad

Photo Credit

My mom showed me compassion. She sacrificed herself and her own ambitions time and again to be home for my sister and me. My dad showed me a work ethic like none other. He took on extra work so that Mom could be home with us. It’s hard for me to describe the gift that was for me, to have her home. But I will say this…when I came home from school to find her there, having worked hard to clean the house for us and cook meals for us, and the 500 other things that she did while we were at school, it was like a warm hug every single day saying, “We love you THIS much.” I have been so very blessed to be able to carry this on to my children. Thanks Mom and Dad, for your sacrifice that made that gift possible.

My parents have modeled how to parent. My mom taught me the value of conversation. She used to spend hours talking to me…hours. I believe that if our conversations were to be added up, it would be in the hundreds of thousands of hours of discussion. She never turned the radio on in the car, because she said she wanted to talk to me. She always made me feel that what I had to say was important and worthy of being heard. My dad taught me all kinds of things. He would always tell us how to do things and encourage us to learn new things. He showed me how to teach my kids alongside me.  My parents never talked down to us. They always believed that we were capable of anything. Thanks Mom and Dad, for believing in my abilities and helping me see that my thoughts were important.

My dad worked hard to make sure that my sister and I had a higher education. He worked extra hours to send us to college. We both went and graduated with honors. No one was more proud of that than my dad. I no longer use my degree in an official capacity. Now, I stay home with my kids, and no one is more proud of that than he is either. Thanks Dad, for valuing education enough to make it important, but not so much that it trumped my calling in life.

My parents showed me how to care for people when my grandfather got sick with Altzheimer’s disease. They demonstrated kindness, tenderness, and love day in and day out. They are doing it all over again with my grandmother now. Through this, they have taught me that family sticks together and takes care of each other, no matter what. Thanks Mom and Dad, for showing me how to be a caretaker.

My parents have shown me how to love grandchildren well. My children are so well-loved by my parents. They are patient with them, they are spoiled (just the right amount) by them. And every one of them would go live with Nana and Papa, given the opportunity. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for loving my kids.

And always, ALWAYS…my parents have shown me a strong marriage. In fact, even though it’s Father’s Day, I literally couldn’t figure out how to separate the post into what my Dad has taught me and what my mom has taught me. My whole life, they have just done a beautiful job of working together in everything and complimenting each other so perfectly in what they wanted for our family. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for showing me how much you love each other every day.

I am so thankful that God gave me you as my parents. This is only a fraction of what you both mean to me. Each day, I’m figuring out more and more things that you have taught me about life. It is my prayer that one day, my children will think of me as I think of you guys. I love you!

Happy Father’s Day to my sweet Dad!

Preserving Memories…the Easy Way

In the first few years of motherhood, I would look at all that “other mothers” were doing and feel completely inadequate. I didn’t scrapbook, which was all the rage when my oldest child was first born. I didn’t make grand displays of cute pictures all over my house, and I didn’t keep detailed, daily memory books. I know, I know…fail!

I admire the mothers that do these things for their children. They are giving their kids such a gift, but over the last nine years, I’ve lightened up on myself a lot, and I have realized that what works for other mothers isn’t necessarily what works for me and that’s ok! And in the process of mothering, I’ve found what works for me: simple things that don’t take much time or effort. The truth is that there are quite a few ways to document your children’s lives without taking a lot of time. And guess what? A few times, I’ve even cheated and gone back a few years to document things that I missed. So no worries if you are in a stage of life where you just can’t do these things for your kids. It will come back to you one day when you do have time to write it all down. Today, I wanted to share with you a few ideas to document your children’s lives that don’t take much time.

1. Social Media: Yeah, I know the stigma it’s getting, and I know all about over-sharing. You and your family have to decide how much you will share, but in my early days when I had multiple babies and little ones, I was so very thankful for social media. I could grab my phone, post something cute or funny that my kids did, and have it saved. That way, a few years down the road, when I have a little breathing room, I can actually write it down. By the way, I’m hanging out on Twitter now too-I’m so fancy! Look me up! @deanadwood

Preserving family memories doesn't have to be time consuming.  Here are a few easy ways to keep memories alive.

Preserving family memories doesn’t have to be time consuming. Here are a few easy ways to keep memories alive.

2. Birthday Journals: I can’t write all the cute things and big accomplishments my kids have made each and every day, but I can take time one day per year, on their birthday, to write about their year. I keep a journal for each of my kids and every year on their birthday, I write about all the big things that happened, I scan through Facebook and write down all the cute stuff I want to remember, and I write about all their likes and dislikes.

Preserving family memories doesn't have to be time consuming.  Here are a few easy ways to keep memories alive.

Preserving family memories doesn’t have to be time consuming. Here are a few easy ways to keep memories alive.

3. Jar of Memories: I’ve never done this, but I have a friend who does this every year, and I think it’s such a great idea. Keep a jar and a stack of blank slips of paper handy. When something memorable happens, write it down and stick it in the jar. At the end of the year, take the slips out and read all the memorable moments of the year together. If you’re really crafty, you could even make something artsy with all the slips of paper.

Preserving memories doesn't have to be time consuming.  Here are a few easy ways to keep memories alive.

Preserving memories doesn’t have to be time consuming. Here are a few easy ways to keep memories alive.

4. Calendar Memories: I keep a planner and always have. These days it’s too full of stuff to do, but back when my calendar was less full, I would jot down memorable things that my kiddos said in the day boxes, just so I would remember it and look back at the end of the year.

Preserving family memories doesn't have to be time consuming.  Here are a few easy ways to keep memories alive.

Preserving family memories doesn’t have to be time consuming. Here are a few easy ways to keep memories alive.

5. Photo Books: It has been said that our generation takes the most pictures yet will have the least photographs. The problem is that we don’t have our photographs printed. Each year, I suggest making photo books. Services like Shutterfly and Groove Book are great services where you can easily unload all your Facebook or phone photos and have them made into a book. Groove Book is very reasonable in price too.

6. Blogs: My very first blog was just a place to document what was happening with Isaac. It grew from there, but at the heart of every blog post, has been my desire to leave a time capsule of my thoughts and my family at each particular stage in life. Blogs are easy to do, and you can even adjust the privacy settings so that they are just for you or just for you and those you give access to. Check out Blogger or WordPress to start your own. It takes about 15 minutes and you’ll have your first post up and running!

I don’t do all these things. I will tell you, I use social media, my blog, and birthday journals faithfully. If you are just starting out though, pick one thing that resonates with you, one thing that you think is doable. And if you are a mom with babies, I know that stage! It doesn’t last forever. Don’t worry if you don’t do all the neat things to document your kids’ lives. One day, you’ll have a chance to catch up. And you won’t forget everything! And in the meantime, talk about the sweet memories often, even if you have to tell them to your baby! Talking about those memories will keep them alive until you can get them on paper.

What are some things you do to preserve memories of your kids?

Right Start Math: Our Choice for Homeschool Math

Math makes sense.

At least, that’s what my husband used to tell his first grade class. So I started telling my fourth grade class the same thing. The only problem was that by the time they reached fourth grade, for so many children, math just didn’t make sense. They had been taught to memorize the how of math without the why of it.

So, when I set out to find a math program for our homeschool, I went through several flops. I am a curriculum junkie. I love curriculum. I like to see it, flip through the pages, try it out, and I really like it when I find an exceptional program. Let me tell you, there are definitely some great math curriculums out there. However, a lot of them focus on memorizing the how without understanding the why. Also, a lot of the curriculum included pages and pages of practice work. For my reluctant writer, that was just short of torture. We went through two and a half long years of homeschooling while trying different math programs. They were all a flop for us, and I watched my little guy begin to struggle. Then I saw his confidence in math deteriorate.

Then, one day on an internet search, I came across a math program I had never heard called Right Start Math. I looked at it, and I was skeptical. It looked kind of simple, but I’m not one to judge by the cover of a curriculum, so I started exploring, and I liked what I saw. I felt that it would be a great fit for my Attention Deficit Disorder/Reluctant Writer 8 year old boy.

Right Start Math is a great choice for children with ADD/ADHD, reluctant writers, and kinesthetic learners.

Right Start Math is a great choice for children with ADD/ADHD, reluctant writers, and kinesthetic learners.

I was right! I started I-Man at Level C. The book began with “Transition Lessons”. It was hard to take the time to do those lessons since they seemed to be review, but I realized that those days of transition were totally worth it. I began to see math make sense to him for the first time ever! It was amazing! I was so thrilled. We finished out the year with Right Start Math and my now 9-year-old does difficult math in his head! He understands the why of math. And that’s so exciting to me, but more importantly, it’s exciting to him. He is feeling success in math, and I think he likes it! My child who used to cringe at the thought of math time, now looks forward to math just as much as his other subjects.

I also started my girls with Level A, and I couldn’t be happier with the start that they are getting in Math. My girls can already do patterning, tally marks, and simple addition and subtraction. They love math time.

Right Start Math comes with everything you need to teach a hands-on approach to math.  Math makes sense!

Right Start Math comes with everything you need to teach a hands-on approach to math. Math makes sense!

So here are a few reasons why I am a Right Start Math Mom:

1. Simple Lessons: The lessons are super simple and completely scripted (if you need it), so it is truly an open-and-teach type curriculum. There is very little to no preparation needed on mom’s part. That’s a plus for a mom of four!

2. Short Lessons: The lessons last no more than 15 minutes, so they don’t drag out. It’s perfect for kiddos with ADD/ADHD or just active boys and girls.

3. Hands-On: Every lesson has the student working with something to show the concept. And it all comes with the program, so you don’t have to worry about saving popsicle sticks and finding counting tiles. It’s all there and ready for each lesson.

4. Short Practice Pages: For my little guy, writing the answer to countless math problems was just too much. He dreaded me handing him a page of math. The RSM workpages are simple, and they don’t have too many problems. It’s enough to assess learning, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.

5. It’s fun. Almost every lesson has a card game that corresponds with the concept being taught. My kiddo looks so forward to the end of the lesson because he knows there is most likely a card game. He has learned so much from those card games too! Each card game is crafted to teach. The difficulty level increases as skills improve. Even Level A has card games that my girls love too.

Click here to see a video of the song which provides the building blocks of this program.

RSM is just a well-done, complete math program. They do some things differently, so the transition lessons are really important, but it is well worth going through the transition lessons. My kids love it, and I’m looking forward to several more years with Right Start Math. I have seen the results and I am impressed. If you are interested in RSM, you can check it using the links below.

Right Start Math

Click here to follow my Pinterest board where I pin helpful tips for Right Start Math as well as enrichment ideas.

*I am not receiving anything at all for my review of this product.  We simply love it and wanted to share 🙂

5 Reasons We Love Sonlight

5 Reasons Why We Love Sonlight

5 Reasons Why We Love Sonlight

When we first began homeschooling, over three years ago now, I knew what I wanted. I had in my mind what I wanted our school to look like. I just had no idea how to make it happen. I knew that I wanted a ton of great literature, a heavy emphasis on history, plenty of science, obviously the three R’s, and all under this big umbrella of God’s Word. Now, it’s possible to find all this on your own and piece together your own curriculum, but it isn’t easy. Trust me, I’ve tried. So…after a year of piecing together a not-so-great curriculum, I got a Sonlight catalog in the mail. My first thought was, “Oh great…another curriculum that I’ll probably buy, then hate and never look at again.” But, as soon as I opened the pages and realized that even if I hated the curriculum, the books alone would be worth it, I immediately changed my tune! I now have been through Core C, Core D, and Core Pre ¾, and here are the things I love about Sonlight.

  1. Great Literature. As in….I have yet to read a book that we didn’t ALL love. What’s so great is that many times my kids have started the book hesitantly after seeing the cover and about a third of the way through, they are absolutely engrossed. Sonlight has taught my children not to judge a book by its cover.
  2. Biblical Worldview. We have had our eyes opened. It is through this curriculum that we all were introduced to the lives of selfless missionaries. We learned the importance of spreading the gospel to the entire world. We learned about the different religions and why we can rest assured knowing that God is the one, true God.
  3. Living Books. Rather than learning from textbooks, generally written by people simply trying to convey information, living books are written by people actually invested in the subject matter. Therefore, they are going to be more knowledgeable, more passionate, and more engaging to the reader. Living books teach us history, science, and even math (check out Life of Fred!) without us ever knowing we are learning! Isaac’s favorite subject for the past two years? History! Why? Because Sonlight makes it come alive through living book selections!
  4. Flexibility. Our first year, it was easy for us to stay on schedule. This year, I had more kids “in school” (and one in public school even!), and I wanted to get a little more depth in some of our science subjects, so we slowed down considerably and got through half of the 36 week year. However, we had a great, FULL year, and I don’t feel at all like we “didn’t finish” or left things incomplete. We will pick up where we left of next year (and probably a little bit this summer when it gets really hot and boring around here). I’m also kind of a creative person. While I’m not exactly an artsy person, I do love projects, so I enjoy the flexibility of doing the suggestions in the schedule or taking my own direction….or a direction I found on Pinterest.  🙂
  5. Fosters Discussion. We have had some amazing discussions spurred by what we’ve studied. Discussions about religion, George Washington, the unreached people groups of Asia, and adoption have all been a product of Sonlight literature. In many cases, God has used this curriculum to change our hearts and prepare our hearts for what He wants to do in our family.

There are about a million other reasons I could list as to why I love Sonlight, but I will resist the urge to keep going. I don’t know that Sonlight is right for every family, but it’s right for us, and I see it being right for us for several years to come. If you are interested in Sonlight, check out the banner below. It will take you to the website where you can check it out for yourself.  It’s a referral link, so if you choose to buy from this link, our family will get credit on our next purchase (thank you!). However, even if you aren’t a homeschooler, I would highly recommend taking a look over the booklist and having several of these books on hand for your child to pick up and read over the summer.

Be sure to check back later this week.  I’ll be telling you about our favorite Math curriculum and our Writing Process!

Sonlight Curriculum

How to Provide Support to Foster/Adoptive Families

Before I begin on this post, I want to make it clear that this is in no way a list of complaints at the way that our circle has handled our adoption. Our family, friends and church have surrounded us with love and care more than we ever could imagine. We are forever grateful for the love that has been and continues to be poured out in our direction.   However, foster and adoptive families continually say the same thing…”I know my family, friends, and church family want to support us, but they don’t know how, and I don’t know how to tell them.”  The fact is that fostering and adoption is something that we go through endless hours of training for. And, our support system gets zero. You guys are asked to just know what we need intuitively, but there is nothing intuitive about this.  The truth is you need training too. Supporting foster and adoptive families is a unique task. I saw a quote the other day that said (in the context of missions),

“Some of us are senders and some are goers. Neither is more important.. [or] possible without the other.” –David Sills.

Providing support for foster and adoptive families is a unique task.  Here are detailed ways that you can help.

Providing support for foster and adoptive families is a unique task. Here are detailed ways that you can help.

But I think this fits really well with foster and adoptive care too. Some of us can do, and some of us can support. Neither is more important, and neither is possible without the other. So before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want you to know that you are SO VERY IMPORTANT. Adoption agencies and DHS will not even approve a family to foster or adopt without proof that they have a support system in place. That’s how important you are. I’ve asked my CALL family what their main needs are in the way of support and I’m putting them in “digest form” for you here to give you a bit of a crash course. I hope that it’s helpful.

  1. Encourage us and be excited for us. We are excited. And no, not just a little excited. It’s as if we were physically birthing a baby. Except in some cases, it’s a 9-year-old. And we need you to be excited with us. We know you love us dearly, but we promise we have thought of the worst case scenarios. We promise this isn’t just a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. We know the risks, we understand that we will get hurt, so we just need you to encourage us. Don’t guard your heart and don’t guard ours. These kiddos need to be loved. We are prepared to do just that. And keep encouraging and being excited even when the new has worn off. Foster parents can have 20 kids in the course of just a couple of years, and every single child is exciting to them. Don’t let yourself slip into the, “Oh, you got another kid,” thing. If we get 20 kids, be excited 20 times with us.
  2. We will fall flat on our face. Especially the first time we welcome a child, but probably a few more times after that. Again, we need encouragement and people to be there for us. We need emotional support through the hard times. Sending cards, writing a quick message, a phone call, coming over for a visit, or a small gift letting families know that you care can do wonders for lifting the spirit of a foster/adoptive parent.
  3. Know that our child may not be like yours. While this is true for every child, it is especially true for children coming from the foster care system. Because of traumatic events from their past, it is common to have severe attachment issues. Again, this is the reason we train for hours. So, there will be boundaries that we will need to set in order to bond with our child. If we ask that you not give candy or hugs, please know that we aren’t just being mean. This is necessary in order for our child to bond with us and not you first. Our kids may have tantrums and act out in public places. They may have terrible table manners, and may not know the first thing about sitting through church. Please help us by asking how you can interact best with our child and by celebrating small victories with us.
  4. We may parent this child differently. Because of the uniqueness of each child in foster care, sometimes, parenting techniques will be different. We have invested hours into books, attending therapy sessions with our child, and attending training classes to know how best to connect and parent him or her. Rather than offering unsolicited advice, the best thing you can do is the occasional, “You are doing a great job.”
  5. There will be times when we can’t tell you things. Sometimes, we can’t (or won’t) tell you things that are going on. This is to protect our child, both his past and his future. It doesn’t mean that things are going really well or that the transition process has been seamless. The truth is that we need your prayers even when we smile and say, “Everything is going really well. We’re just doing great.”
  6. Please know that we will likely have to lighten our load. Getting a new child either by foster care or adoption changes everything…for quite some time. We won’t be able to do everything we did before. We will have to learn to graciously say, “No” to a lot of things we would love to say, “Yes” to. Your understanding will make this so much easier for us.
  7. Practical Care.  Sometimes, children will come to us with nothing…no diapers, no clothes, no formula. Even (and especially!) older children will have no clothes, no socks, no personal items at all. Gift cards can be invaluable to foster families. That means that whenever that family gets a new child, they don’t have to worry about getting the child what they need. They just grab the gift cards and go. Other practical care would include meals. Getting a new child will turn the household routine upside down for quite some time. This means that it is so important to get meals for at least 5 days taken care of. Other help that is awesome would be laundry, regular and occasional baby-sitting, and house-cleaning. These gifts of time are precious to our foster/adoptive families.
  8. When in doubt, ask. I am the world’s worst at just not doing something if I’m not sure that it would be good for someone. So, I know this one better than probably anyone. If you feel like a family has a need, but you aren’t sure, just ask. The worst they could do is say no, but most likely they will be so thankful! If you think that a baby (or even a “big kid”) shower might be appropriate, ask! Even if the family declines, I promise they will still so appreciate the thought!

Again, we desperately need you and we absolutely love our support system. You are invaluable to us. Fostering and adoption isn’t the norm in a lot of areas, so it’s ok if you aren’t quite sure how to support people you love in this situation. It can be awkward sometimes…it’s awkward for us too. (I mean…have you ever looked at a 7-year-old and said, “Hi! I’m your new mommy! It’s really great to meet you!) So, yeah, we know awkward, and it’s ok. But we need you, we love you, we can’t do this without you. And we won’t say it enough, because we can never repay you in words for what you do for us, but let me try to get a start: thank you, thank you, thank you.

Some of us can do, and some of us can support.  Neither is possible without the other.  Here are some practical ways you can support foster & adoptive families.

Some of us can do, and some of us can support. Neither is more important…or possible without the other. Here are some practical ways you can support foster & adoptive families.