Stand Sunday

It’s Stand Sunday, a day we set aside to bring awareness to the orphan crisis. I’ve thought and pondered for some time what I wanted to say on this special day, because I know I need to use my voice when given the opportunity. But really, what I do best is tell our story, and that’s what you’ll find on every page of this blog-the story of a family doing their best to follow God.

stand sunday

 

Adoption is something that I’ve always had in my heart. Of course, in my dreams, it looked much more perfect and picturesque than reality has proven to be. But I would, without a doubt, do it all over again. In the beginning though, it took some nudging to move us to action. I think that’s how the Holy Spirit works oftentimes. It’s small nudges, knowing someone who has been touched by adoption, hearing a sermon…lots of little things prompt us to action. It’s my prayer that this blog and my words can be that nudging for someone.

 

What I want to do today is share some of my older posts in hopes that you will look around, read our story, and feel that little nudge from the Holy Spirit…you know it–it’s the one that says,

 

We have that extra room.

We’ve always wanted a boy/girl.

There’s really no reason not to just look into it.

 

So grab your coffee and a snack, and make yourself at home here on the blog. Take a look into our life to see how challenging, emotionally taxing, and exponentially rewarding adoption can be. 

 

 

The Adoption Process

So You Want to Adopt…Now What?

Do You Have What it Takes?

Adoption Day

Pre-Adoption-Surviving and Thriving

Twelve Seventy-Five

Committing to Love

A Future and a Hope

ADHD vs. Hypervigilance

It’s Just a Tongue Depressor

A Year of Trusting God

It’s Different

Bonding

Bonding Part II & Grace for Us in Parenting

Preparing Your Biological Children for Adoption

We Can’t Watch That

When Love Doesn’t Come Easy

21 Things You Should Know About Adopting an Older Child

Spoons, Forks, and Family

It Was Worth It

Redemption

Waking Up

There’s no good reason, no excuse to not be involved in orphan care. If you can’t foster or adopt, you should support someone who can. Period. This is one case where “We’re too busy” just doesn’t cut it. It’s biblical. God told you to. Everyone plays an important role in the orphan crisis. So if you aren’t in a position to foster or adopt, please reach out to your local foster and adoptive families and find out how you can support them. Here are some ideas to get to you started:

How to Provide Support to Foster/Adoptive Families

 

If you live in Conway County, here are some local resources to get involved with:

Room 29:11

If you live in Arkansas, check these out:

Project Zero

The CALL in Arkansas

One of the best resources is someone who is or has been “in the trenches.” Search out local people who will point you in the right direction. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me anytime. I pray to be the “nudge” that is needed for many people to accept the call to orphan care.

 

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Can We Join Together to Do Something Great?

Last night, I sat at a fair booth for about an hour, representing The CALL ministry, which recruits, trains, and supports foster and adoptive families. I spent that hour trying to not be invisible to the vast majority of people who were sailing by my booth making every effort NOT to look at me. Now, before I continue, I totally get that. I do the same thing to people. I creep by, hoping that they won’t talk to me and ask me to do something, because if you ask me, I will say yes. It’s just in my DNA.

We Care About our Kids

But I also think that there’s a terrible misconception about us….by “us” I mean people who advocate for children in distress…I think that maybe you think that we think that everyone should be fostering or adopting. Let me just clear this up for you…it’s just NOT true. Yes, I wish that more people would foster and adopt, but not everyone is called to foster or adopt. And I know that. And it’s okay. So far, my family hasn’t been called to travel across the world to reach lost people. And that’s okay. We all have different paths of serving God. But what if I said, “Since I am not called to be a missionary, I don’t have to care about the rest of the world?” That wouldn’t make sense would it? Of course not! That’s why my family gives above our regular tithe to equip missionaries from our own church and around the world.

But so many times, we say “I’m just not called to foster care or adoption,” and somehow, we feel okay leaving it there. That’s where we go wrong. It’s biblical to take care of “widows and orphans in distress.”   So, we aren’t asking every single family to foster or adopt. We are asking to let the Holy Spirit move you. We are asking you to join us in prayer for our community. We are asking you to join with us to spread the word about foster care. We are asking you to simply care.

I’m so excited to report that every day, more and more people in Conway County care. We are now up to three foster homes! Three! It’s exciting! But, it’s still not enough, not when you realize that there are 89 kids in Conway County who need a place to stay, and that number changes daily. I’m always thrilled to have conversations with families who are considering fostering or adoption. I’ll never encourage you to just jump in without prayer and a conviction that it’s right for your family. I’ll never guilt you for it not being the right time. And, I’ll be 100% honest with you, and I’ll tell you exactly how hard it is. I’ll even share with you some of our own personal experience. I’ll also share with you how adoption has changed our lives for the better.

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about the new Conway County Foster Care Coalition. This is a really, REALLY exciting thing here in our county. The CCFCC is made up of three organizations, all working together to a common goal: taking care of the children in distress in our community. Tomorrow night (Monday Sept 14), they are going to be holding a meeting. This meeting is open to ANYONE who cares about the situation, and I would highly encourage you to go. If you’ve ever thought about fostering or adoption, or if you have ever just wanted to find a way to help…I strongly urge you to attend this meeting. I promise, there will be no pressure. No one will ask you to do something that you aren’t ready to do. They just want to give the people in our community the chance to care.

Can you attend this meeting?

Can you share this information?  Click on the link below to see all the details:

Conway Co Foster Care Info Meeting PDF

Adoption Day

Adoption Day

Today, August 3rd, 2015, we officially welcomed our fourth child, James Wood.

Today was the day…Adoption Day! I actually like the way a friend put it best…FOREVER DAY!! When I think of how many not-forever days my little guy has had in his eight years, I am SO thankful that today was a forever day. As we prepared for today, Tim and I mentally rehearsed our answers to the questions we would have to answer. Yes, adopting a child requires you to actually raise your right hand and testify with a real life judge and real life court people. Thankfully, our adoption specialist gave us a heads up on the questions we’d need to be ready for like our wedding date (yes, we actually debated on that question and considered asking her to look it up…we are THAT bad!). Then there were other questions, like, “Why do you want to adopt James?” That’s the one I got stuck on.   I wondered if the judge wanted my short answer or my long answer. As it turned out, he didn’t want either…he didn’t even ask the question! Probably best, because the long answer would have kept us there all day! However, I still want to give my long answer, because one day, I want James to know for sure that he was fought for, he was wanted, and he belonged from the very beginning. So here it is…

Why did we want to adopt James?

Adoption Day

Introducing James Timothy Wood

Because God left an empty spot in our family for seven long years…and he fills it perfectly.

Because we prayed….and he was the answer.

Because we have fought for him…and he has been worth it all.

Because he needed us…and we needed him.

Because he’s been the one missing at our dinner table.

Adoption Day

Adopted at Age 8 on August 3, 2015, after 2 years of foster care.

Because over six months ago, we decided to love him…so we do.

Because we knew it was him, and when we met him, we couldn’t have been more sure.

Because we have cried together under the shade tree in the back yard…and we’ll probably do it again a few times.

Because this kiddo has a big future ahead of him…and we want to help him navigate it.

Adoption Day

Because he calls our house “Home”.

Because his “heart has some light with siblings” in his life.

He deserves a do-over…one that includes a forever family.

Adoption Day

And like I’ve told him over and over when he’s questioned our intentions, I want to be there to cry when we take him to drop him off at college…or trade school…or his first apartment…whatever.

I want to cry again at his wedding.

I want to be Grandma to his children, and I want to tell them the story of God’s hand in their Dad’s life.

I’m looking forward to the day that he talks about often…the day when he builds a house right beside us right here on Old Salem Rd and spends all his spare time working the farm with his family.

Adoption Day

The Wood Children

I don’t know if this is what life will look like for us or not, but last night, as we were sitting together as a family, discussing the events of today, James said, “You know, it’s like yesterday and everything before it is the Old Testament of James, and tomorrow starts the New Testament of James.” And I think that’s the most exciting part of today. It’s a fresh start. His future is now in HIS hands, not the state’s, not the caseworkers’…and I ask you to pray with me that at the right time, God will impress upon him to choose to do the most important thing with his life, and put his life entirely in GOD’S HANDS.

Thank you all for your support and love throughout the past year and a half! It’s surreal that we are finally closing the door on this chapter and starting to write the rest of the book.

Adoption Day

The Wood Family, 2015

Family Feature Friday: Caitlin Fitch

This is the first post of an exciting regular feature I’ll be doing here at Redeeming the Days Blog. On Fridays, I’ll be featuring a foster, adoptive, or support family. There are so many families who are following God’s calling in adoptive and foster care, and I am so thankful for them. I hope that these posts can be a bright light for all of us that the body of Christ is not only still there, but we are active in glorifying God in the area of orphan care.

Feature Family Friday:  Get a glimpse into the life of a real family fostering, Fridays at Redeeming the Days.

Feature Family Friday: Get a glimpse into the life of a real family fostering, Fridays at Redeeming the Days.

For my first post, I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to interview my good friend, Caitlin Fitch. I met Caitlin in our CALL training back in September of 2014. Of course, the first day, everyone is just kind of checking out everyone else…well…that’s what I was doing anyway. When I saw Caitlin, I was really confused. She was young, beautiful, and by herself. I didn’t know what she was doing there, but I knew that I wanted to find out. Over the course of the training, I realized that Caitlin was a single young lady there because she has a serious love for Jesus and a passion for hurting children. She was training to be a single foster parent.

Caitlin is one of those people who walks into a room and lights it up. Her humor and kindness is unmistakable. You know that it is Jesus shining through her. I am so excited to get to feature her journey today, and I hope that you will enjoy reading about this courageous young woman!

Feature Family Friday:  Get a real life glimpse into the life of a foster family...Fridays on Redeeming the Days.

Feature Family Friday: Get a real life glimpse into the life of a foster family…Fridays on Redeeming the Days.

Caitlin lives with her “fur baby” Tate in Central Arkansas. When I asked her if she was foster only, adopt only, or foster-to-adopt, she replied,

“Foster, completely willing to adopt. Despite the lies Satan tries to tell me…that no one will ever want to marry me if I adopt. All that is a load of bunk, God has a plan. A bigger plan. And I’m ready for it!”

{Can you see why I love this lady?}

  • When and why did you make the decision to foster?

“You know, I always knew adoption was in my future. I was raised in a home that had a huge heart for orphan care. Last March, I went to Peru on a mission trip and the Lord stirred my heart up all over again. When I got home, I asked the question ‘Why can I not do this? What do I have to wait on?’ and just clear as day, I heard God say, ‘When have I ever asked you to have all your stuff together before you follow me?’ and just like that I signed up for the informational meeting.”

  • How many placements have you had in your home so far?

“Two, a 3 year old boy from February 26th-March 17th, and two girls now from April 1st-current.”

  • What has been the hardest part about fostering? “I feel like that is such a hard question to answer. I would say the emotional toll and grieving you do on behalf of these kids has to be the hardest-everything from the losses in their life, the relationship between you and DHS and how much more you want people to care for your kid, the looks you get from people, all of it…it’s just hard emotionally.”
  • What has been the best/most rewarding part about fostering?
  • “I spent a week in the hospital at the beginning of July with my foster baby. During that week her sibling had to be away from me and stay with several different foster homes. The day my friend brought her home to me I watched out the window for her and when I saw her get out of the car, I opened the front door…she started running towards me…crying and screaming, ‘Mommy!! Mommy!! Mommy!!’ It was just too much for my heart to handle. Knowing I am something to this little bug is worth everything.”

When I asked Caitlin what advice she would give to others considering fostering or adoption, she had some great nuggets of truth. She said that when you are considering this big step, you have to identify and put aside every selfish thought. You have to put aside the fears of getting attached, loving them, and letting them go, and you have to listen to the tiny voice in your heart that says that it is all going to be okay. I think that is great advice. When you are thinking about adopting or fostering, there will be one million voices in your mind telling you NOT to do it. But the only voice that matters is God’s. What does HE want you to do? Do you trust HIM to take care of everything else?

Although single foster parenting might not be something that you’ve heard of before, it’s actually something that is very much needed. Many foster children enter the system due to abuse, most of the time, at the hands of a live-in male in the home. Because of single foster moms like Caitlin, these children are given time to heal and learn to trust again.

I have been watching Caitlin care for her “babies” now since February, and I’m so blessed by her heart. She has had a couple of stays in the hospital now with sick kiddos, and she treats them no differently than I treat mine. She stays by their side, worries about them, holds their little hands, kisses their cheek, and wipes their tears. And then, sometimes, she hands them back to Mom and Dad. And then, she trusts God in a whole different way.

This is the process that foster parents everywhere go through. It’s recklessly loving a child, investing all you have in them, crying for them and with them, and then sometimes, giving them up and trusting in God’s plan for them. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Would you join me in praying for Caitlin right now?

Father, I thank you so much for Caitlin.

Thank you for her heart, for her passion for hurting children.

Thank you for calling her to this incredible work.

Thank you for equipping her.

God, we ask that you give her patience, compassion, and strength for the days ahead multiplied exponentially to care for these sweet children.

We ask that you complete the work that you began in her. We ask that you hold her future in your hand, and we give you the praise and the glory for the fruit in her life. Thank you, Father.

In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

**This is the first in a regular series of Feature Family Friday posts. If your family fosters, has adopted, or offers support for orphan care in some way and you would like to tell your story, I want to help! Please e-mail me at deanadwood@yahoo.com **

To learn more about foster care or adoption in Arkansas, click on the links below:

The CALL
Project Zero

I Want to Foster/Adopt…Now What?

So you want to foster/adopt...now what?

So you want to foster/adopt…now what?

I think it’s common for people to get to the point where they have thought about and prayed about fostering and adoption, they have made the decision to move forward…and then, they get stuck not knowing what to do next. Let me just tell you…it’s not your fault! There’s not just a ton of information out there telling you what to do next right? So I want to help. I hope this post answers some of your questions on what to do next.

STEP 1: Pray some more. Yes, you’ve prayed, but don’t stop. This is a long process, and it won’t be easy. There will be a few (ok, maybe even a lot) of moments where you will be unsure about what you’ve signed up for. In those moments, you need to know God’s will for your family. So keep praying through this process and don’t stop.

STEP 2: Look up THE CALL. Yes, you can go through DHS, and that’s fine. But, there is just no comparison for support and for spiritual guidance through this process. You need praying people around you. I urge you to go through a faith-based organization. In Arkansas, you can’t beat The CALL. If you are in another state, do a little internet research to find a faith-based organization who can train you and support you on the journey.

STEP 3: Attend an Informational Meeting. This is the first “real” step in becoming a foster/adoptive parent. At this meeting, you will get vital information about fostering/adoption, and you will get your first paperwork packet. I want to stress here though, that these meetings are seriously low pressure. You will not get a call, you will not get a guilt trip….you can literally walk out the door and never say another word about it, and no one will ever think a thing about it. So, don’t feel like this is like the “jump in” point. For many families, it’s more of a “get your toes wet” type step.  The CALL always lists their upcoming meetings in the right sidebar of their website.

STEP 4: Turn in your paperwork. After the informational meeting, you will leave with your first batch of paperwork. You can fill this out and turn it in the next day, or you can hang on it to it, pray some more, and turn it in a few months later. It’s totally your decision and again, absolutely no pressure.

STEP 5: Fingerprints and initial interview. Once you get your paperwork turned in, you’ll be scheduled to get your fingerprints done. The CALL will help you get this scheduled.  Then, an initial interview will be set up at your home with a caseworker. This is a super low-key interview. So, don’t stress!

STEP 6: Training & Paperwork. By this point, you’ll have a feel for what’s going on, and you’ll have people supporting you and helping you get there. The training will be excellent. You will learn a lot. It won’t fully prepare you for what’s ahead, but nothing will. On the job training is the best teacher in the world of foster care/adoption. The paperwork will seem endless, but don’t worry, it will end! You’ll get to the bottom of the pile eventually. And at the bottom of that pile is a child or children who need your family!

It’s not an easy process, but it’s worth it. There will be plenty of frustrations and weariness, but you’ll get there! Surround yourself with people who encourage you and support what you are doing. Find someone who has been through the process to support you and walk you through it as well. And the best advice I could ever give…keep praying. I can still remember times when we were stuck in the paperwork process. It was so frustrating! But, now that we are on the other side of the paperwork and we have our little guy with us, I can see where our delays fit perfectly into his story. God chose him for us, and all the hold-ups that we viewed as a nuisance at the time turned out to be absolutely perfect timing in the story of how God made us a family.

You’ve made a great decision to foster or adopt.

So You Want to Foster/Adopt...Now What?

So You Want to Foster/Adopt…Now What?

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.