Saturday, September 29, 2012


I was making my morning rounds as a blog stalker.  Anyone else do that?  I was reading at  They have a fantastic story I wanted to share. 

 I love foster care.  How can you not after a story like this.  (Melissa)

September 26, 2012
Today’s guest post is by Tracy Mazuer.
When my husband and I met Jonathan, he was 12 ½ and playing the Mexican game LoterĂ­a at what would be his last “adoption fair” with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. By the following year he would age out of this program — the county’s biggest and best effort to find adoptive homes for foster children.
Jonathan was quiet and beautiful with thick, long black hair that dropped straight to his shoulders, big dark brown eyes that, when they looked up at you, revealed a certain depth of knowing that belied his age. His Lauren Bacall-esque gap-toothed smile (if you were lucky enough to get one) beamed childlike enthusiasm along with a sweet shyness.
My husband and I had found ourselves at this “foster adoption fair” after having spent $50,000, four long years, and two emotionally devastating trips to Ukraine to adopt a little girl. It was a dark, corrupt journey that left us without a child and little hope of finding one. Our social worker who had carried us through our home study process was now working at a children’s center that specialized in foster adoptions. When we came home from Ukraine more devastated than the last time, she recommended we check out the foster-adopt program. We were hesitant because we knew the headline horror story that accompanied foster children: The child will be stripped away and sent back to live with the abusive biological family. That had been the beauty of international adoption. Find your child, close the door. No biological parents, no mess.
We had also heard a multitude of other “problems” with foster kids: They’re more severely traumatized because they’ve had multiple placements, you’ll have to do regular visits with their biological families, these kids are “troubled” and will get “in trouble.” But when we broke it down, we knew that all orphans are “troubled” and there’s another word for it called….hurt. We also began to realize that a child’s connection to their biological family (as painful as it may be) can show us healthy signs of attachment – that most important ability to connect.
With nothing left to lose, we dove into the program, took all of the classes, completed yet our 3rdhome-study, and signed up to foster-adopt a little girl between the ages of 1-5. We still had our toddler room ready to go from our Ukrainian adoption replete with clothes, books, crib, toys and chandelier. We had been told it might take time to find a single girl since that’s what “everyone wants” and we were way down on the waiting list. We had waited this long, we thought, what was another few years?
But within 24-hours there was a shift. The night after we were officially “certified” as foster parents (a requirement to adopt a foster child), we received a phone call with an invitation to a DCFS “Latino Adoption Fair” for the next morning. They knew it was “late notice,” but wanted to extend the invite. We went. The event was incredible for the children. There were volunteers by the dozens, food, carnival games, a DJ, prizes, and happy kids having a blast. We looked for our little girl, but she wasn’t there. There were only sibling groups and older children, but this was our first domestic adventure and we were fine with it. We spent the day playing games with kids and making sure they had the best time and won the most prizes. When lunch was served, (tacos, rice, beans and cupcakes!), my husband and I got our plates and walked to the far edge of the fair to sit with a couple of tweens. They had been playing LoterĂ­a at their table. I sat directly across the boy with the long black hair and the giant black-brown eyes. At one point my husband and I made him laugh. I remember that moment like it was in slow motion…he looked up into my eyes, looked down in shyness and giggled. That was it. My search was over. I had fallen head-over-heels-madly-in-love.
After lunch, my husband and I pulled his social worker aside (all children are accompanied by their workers at the fair) and asked her to tell us about this boy. She beamed when talking about Jonathan: He’s amazing. He wants to be a chef. He loves dogs. He’s smart and philosophical and deep. She also said his files are so thick that they would scare us. She said he’d been diagnosed with everything that would send parents running – Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder. He’d had 24 placements. He’d been thrown out of many. He’d gone to 12 schools in the 4th grade. He lived in two group homes. She said she knew this boy, though, and that he was an unbelievable kid who just needed solid parents who could ride his rollercoaster until he could settle in and be loved. And, as terrifying as it was, we knew instantly that he was our son, and she knew instantly that we were his parents.
Our little girl’s room was quickly transformed into a tween boy’s room filled with Nightmare Before Christmas paraphernalia (his favorite movie). He couldn’t believe his eyes when a few months later he walked into our home, his bedroom, his 25th placement. Two big dogs flanked his specially decorated bed and a Welcome Home sign hung from the rafters. He was speechless at first and then quietly thanked us. His social worker said that no one had ever done anything like this for him before.
That was four years ago. The ride has been the most difficult and most rewarding experience of my life. But isn’t that what all parents say? We did what most consider to be the “unthinkable.” We adopted a 13-year-old, high-risk, traumatized boy. I would never have it any other way. Our painful and extended search for a little girl led us to the child we were always meant to have – and he was right here in Los Angeles.
As for his terrifying stack of files: Jonathan is not bipolar, and what was labeled as oppositional defiance has been managed with therapy and good parenting. He does suffer from ADHD and PTSD, but that is also managed with patience and the proper care. He is attached to us as his parents, has tons of friends, and is the proud middle linebacker for his high school football team. He will be the first in his biological family to go to college.
I have never known that I could love this deeply and this patiently. He is the light of our lives. He makes us laugh more than anyone we’ve ever known. He makes us proud to be his parents.
Tracy Mazuer is an adoptive mom of a teenage boy from foster care. She is a child advocate and television producer living in California. For comical, mini-stories of her experiences with Jonathan, go to

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sad Q (Kim)

One of the saddest things I think there is is when the biological parents completely give up!  The two boys I have right now don't have visits anymore because the bio parents quit showing up, and there was court yesterday and neither parent showed for court.  I really struggle as a parent to understand how you can just give up on your child or children.  The court is now filing for termination of parental rights, which the parents probably wont even fight.

I know that the parents are going through a lot, and I know that everything they have to do to get their kids back is difficult, but I would think that the kids are at least worth some effort.  I have dealt with a lot of parents in doing foster care and have come to really like and care about many parents. In fact I have come to admire many parents because of how hard they are willing to work for their children, but not these parents, I am just disgusted with them!

I'm sorry if it sounds like I am rambling, I am just frustrated with this case, and this morning *Q was having horrible screaming fits and hitting and even tried to bite Chase.  Finally I sat down with him and asked him if he was sad, and he said he wanted to see his dad.  I asked him which dad (because he has several from being passed around) and he said his dad *Del (which is bio dad).  This is the first time he has mentioned him to me, but it broke my heart because I can't take away his pain.  I can't fix this for him, and how could you EVER explain to a 3 year old that the reason you can't see your dad is because he just wont show up to visit you.  All I could do is hold him and tell him how sorry I was, and that it was okay to miss his dad.

One thing I have figured out doing foster care is a lot of times when they are sad, it comes out as anger because they don't know how else to show it.  After talking to Q he seemed to feel much better, not fixed for sure, but just being able to vocalize his feelings helped.

Anyone else have any stories like this that they would like to share? I would love to know how you have dealt with situations like this.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dr. John DeGarmo

I just started reading  a book. It is called  

And to my surprise when I checked email this morning was some helpful advice from the author.  How fun is that?  Have a great read!!  (Melissa)
The first impression you create with your foster child is often vitally important to how the next few days and weeks will transpire. This will probably not be the sweet little child who rushes into your waiting arms, laughing delightfully, as you might imagine. It is highly likely that your foster child will be scared and frightened, full of anxiety. He may have left his family moments ago, and is now told that you are his family, for the time being. Without a doubt, he is full of questions, as emotions swirl within him. No matter how much this child has been abused, whether it is physically or emotionally, your foster child will want to their mother and father back. After all, these people have been the most important people in his life. Along with this, he has lost his familiar pattern of living, his home, his friends, and all that made up his own personal world. Although it is impossible to predict how he will react when he first meets you, it is important that you approach this time with caution and care.
Each child’s placement is different. Some may come to you with a head full of lice, while some might be some might be covered in dirt, and the few possessions they own, if any, carried in a black plastic bag. In fact, they may only have the clothes on their back. Others may come to stay with you clean, healthy, and with a suitcase full of clothing, a box of possessions, and some money in their wallet. What is important is that you do not judge your foster child based on his arrival and appearance. However they arrive, they will need your patience, your time, and your love.
When the caseworker pulls into your driveway, if possible, go out to the car and welcome the caseworker and child, introducing yourself immediately, with a warm smile and soft voice. Inform your foster child who you are and the role you will now play in his life. He may very well not understand the foster care system, or what foster parents do. Do not insist that your new child call you mom or dad. In fact, it is wise that you never insist upon this. The word “mom” may refer to the person who beat him. “Dad” may be the person who left his family. Allow your foster child to call you by your first names, if you feel comfortable with this, or by whatever name he feels comfortable in calling you. As the child may be scared, do not insist that he react to you right away. This is a time of extreme difficulty, and your foster child may be in a state of shock. As you help him inside with his possessions, take him by the hand, if he is a little one, or place a soft hand upon his shoulder, if he is a teenager. Actions like these can be reassuring that all will be okay, that he is in a safe and caring home. Do not insist upon hugging, as he may be too embarrassed or hurt to do so.
After all introductions to the entire family have been made, take him on a tour of your house, his new home. Show him where he will sleep, and where his clothes will be kept. Have a nightlight already on in the room, if the room is dark. The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies is always a welcome one in any home, particularly for children. Ask if he is hungry, and offer him some food. If he doesn’t want any food, do not insist upon it. He will eat when he is ready and hungry.
You will have to sign some paper work with your caseworker, as well as go over any last minute news, details, and information. If possible, do this away from the child, as this, too, can be especially embarrassing and damaging to your new child. This is a good time for your foster child to eat, or be alone in his new room. If you have children of your own, it may also be a good time for them to engage in some sort of play with their new foster brother. Your foster child will likely be overwhelmed with the situation, so it is important that you make sure your home is as peaceful and quiet as possible. Do not invite the neighbors or relatives over upon arrival. Instead, allow your foster child to have some personal space and alone time. If it is late at night, do not insist that he go to bed immediately. After all, he is probably not only needing some time to reflect on the day’s events, sleep may be difficult to come by, as he is in a strange bed, in a strange home. Sadly, it is not uncommon for newly placed foster children to cry themselves to sleep during the first few nights. Do not be surprised if this happens. He may be scared and lonely. Let him know that you understand how difficult it is for him, and that his tears are normal and all right. Read to him a bedtime story each night; place a nightlight not only in his room, but in the nearby bathroom, as well. Let him know that he can get up in the night and use the bathroom whenever he needs to.
-Dr. John DeGarmo, Foster Parent, Author, Speaker, Trainer

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ambassadors (Melissa)

Last weekend, Kim and I did our first volunteering job with the foster care foundation.  We are ambassadors.  Sounds pretty fancy and important, doesn't it?  It really wasn't hard.  We just had to sit at a booth at a street fair and talk answer questions about foster care. And shhhhhhhh  don't tell anyone, but we didn't wear our official shirts.   The hardest part was how broad peoples questions were.  But it was really great to just get out and promote foster care.  We ended up sitting there for 6 hours.  But I did enjoy it.

I was amazed at the people that would come over to just tell us their experiences.  People that grew up in foster care or took in kids when they were young.   Some experiences were good and some were bad.  There were also people of all ages asking about it and how they can get involved.  It was a great experience.  Until the end.  Sadly, when no one came to pick up the booth stuff, we realized we had to take it all down.   Unfortunately, neither of us had ever taken down a big canopy.  That was pretty hot and tiring, but we did it.  And we made it home.

I am very thankful for this opportunity.  It was a beautiful thing to see how many people have been or want to be touched by foster care.  Even the man that had a booth on ball room dancing (which we have got to get our husband to go try.  Sounded so fun!)  next to ours had adopted a child out of the system.

I am pretty excited to do it again, maybe we will just sign up for 1 time though.  6 hours was super long.  But I signed up to be an Ambassador so I could help without having to take in kids right now.  I am really glad I did.  Anyone else do anything to volunteer?

Another story from Barry, Yeah!!!

The Photo
When my son first arrived as a foster child at my house he was 7 , and a few things didn't sit well with me . He brought very little personal items with him , the clothes he brought were two sizes TOO big and few this were too small. The only items I would consider very personal were two stuffed animals and a very important Photo . It was a photo of him and his mom . The photo was on regualr print paper in black and white and he looked SO HAPPY! I asked if that was his mother he said "Yea , I haven't seen her in a while ". I asked why the photo wasn't in his LIFEBOOK he said "What's a LIFEBOOK?". As I unpacked his things I found the book .... He had been in foster Care a year and there was not ONE thing in the book ! I was shocked , in my state all kids receive a life book when they enter foster care and foster parents are supposed to help the child work on them to perserve some sort of stablity and memory for the child . I slide the photo into the book . A few weeks later I go into his room to straighten up . I see the Photo on the side of the bed bald up so I take it and scan it to my computer the put it back where he had it .  A year goes by and one night my son and I are talking about his family and what he remembers. I like to do that sometimes to get the feelings out that he may be feeling at times . But this conversation was ALL about his mother he talked about the goodtimes they had , what they use to do , he wondered if she was thinking about him , even if she was still alive . But when he said "But sometimes Dad I can't remember what she looks like . ". He his face looked SO sad his mood changed and he started to mope around. To myself I said " O NO!". I remembered I had scaned the photo ! I went to the computer and printed it off I put it in a frame . I then took it in his room to him I said " I know you are feeling a little sad so brought this to cheer you up " I turn the picture around the look of peace on his face was priceless . He said " DAD!!! Its my mom ! How did you get this picture! ?". I said " You brought it with don't you remember ? ". He said "No". He looked at the picture and said " Dad you remember when you told me about tears of joy ?". I said "yes". He replied " I know what they are now , its ok I'm not crying because I'm sad if you are wondering , I'm happy . 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Patience! (Kim)

Oh the places you'll go, the things you'll learn and the crazy you'll feel all while doing foster care!  I know it doesn't rhyme, but it totally makes sense to me.
Life at our house is so crazy right now with 10 kids, 5 of which are between the ages of 3 to 5.  I keep looking at them and thinking to myself, have you completely lost your mind?  Some moments I think I have or I am getting very close.  The two boys we have right now are so adorable, but man they have some anger issues, and it is very draining.

It doesn't matter how long you have done foster care you will always learn something new from every child.  With these two boys I am learning a lot of patience, I always thought of myself as a patient person, but I guess I still have more to learn in the patience department.

Yesterday I went in the boys room and picked up the Lego's that had gotten spread all over the room from the kids playing and put them back in the bin. (let me just say I hate picking up Lego's they are so little and are a pain.) Just a short while later *Peter got upset with me and went into the room and threw the Lego's all over the room again.  Oh I was not a very happy mamma!  But I calmly walked in the room and told Peter that after he took a nap he would have to pick up the mess.  When he woke up he came out and asked for a Popsicle, I then reminded him of the mess he had to clean up.  He decided to sit and sulk for a bit, and I told him that was fine, but until the mess was clean he couldn't have his Popsicle.  One of my older daughters then got out some M&M's and Peter ran over and asked for some, I quickly reminded him of his mess, I said "Peter, run in and clean it up and then you can have some M&M's and a Popsicle."  He still wouldn't budge, but after a few minutes of thinking it over in his head I guess he decided it was worth cleaning up the mess.  He came back to me and said "Mom, I cleaned it all up."  He was so proud of himself and I was so proud of him too!  I had him show me what he had done, and I praised him for it, but reminded him that it is not okay to throw things around just because we are mad.  I then gave him a big hug and his treats. We are making progress, slowly but surely!

A trip to the dentist. . . (Melissa)

A few years back, we had a sibling set of 3.  Shortly after we told them they had a dentist appointment the next day,  the 7 year old disappeared.  We couldn't find her anywhere.  We searched and searched.  We had the neighbors out searching.  They were searching in our house.  We looked everywhere.  After about 30 minutes I called the Christmas Box House to ask them what to do when I lose a shelter child.  She told me to call the police and have them help us look for her.

So I did.  The dispatch was very nice and helpful.  They sent out an officer.  Right as the officer got to my house, the older girl had ran into the basement screaming, "they called the cops, he's here!!!!!"  The poor 7 year old had squished herself up in a ball under a bunkbed behind some drawers.  When she heard about the police, she was so scared she would get taken away she came out.  She was upset for a while.  Police had taken her parents and she was scared she would have to go to jail.  Poor thing.  We told her she had just scared us, but I felt bad that someone so young would have such a reaction to the police, who are there to protect her.  Anyone else had to get police involved?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Always Be Mom & Dad - Adoption song by Becky Wright

Baby *Mikey (Kim)

Baby *Mikey came to our house after getting released from Primary Children's Hospital. Mikey was three months old and had several broken bones, he had bruises all over his little body and bite marks all over his back.  When he came to our house he had his arm in a sling and was still in some pain, but that little baby smiled the biggest smiles you have ever seen.  Now for a baby to have been abused like this you would think that he must have been a baby that cried non stop, nope!  Baby Mikey never cried.  He was so content to just lay in his chair and look around, but man when you would talk to him his eyes would sparkle and he would smile and I swear to you the whole room would light up.  This baby was something special.  We all loved Mikey so very much and would have given anything to make him apart of our family, but he had other siblings in a different foster home so he ended up being placed with them.  We don't know what ever happened to that sweet baby, but we sure hope everything turned out okay for him.  It was hard to let him go, but we sure were lucky to have been apart of his life if even for a short period of time!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Keeping Bio Parents Involved or Not? (Kim)

This is a huge topic, and you will get a different answer from any one person you ask. Rightfully so I must say, because every situation deserves a different answer.
In our own family we have adopted from three different families and have three completely different situations with each adoption.
Beyonce knows her bio moms name and has pictures of her, she has some of just her and some of them together.  Beyonce doesn't have any contact with her right now but knows that when ever she is ready to meet her we will help her contact her and set that up for her.  As for right now Beyonce has said  she would rather wait until she is older and we told her that is up to her and we support her 100%!
Breanna and Alyssa know who there bio mother is and they have a very open relationship with her. We are good friends with her and her family and enjoy spending time with them.  Breanna and Alyssa will go for overnight visits and just have a great time with her.  We consider her to be a part of our family!
Chase doesn't know who his bio mom is and truthfully neither do I.  I feel bad about this for his sake, but during his foster/ adoption his bio mom was in jail and I never met her.  Thanks to the caseworker I do have a few photo's of her, but other than that the information is very limited.  When Chase is older if he wants to find her I will do my best to help him.  I do think it is important for kids to know who their bio family is, even if they are not apart of their lives.
I would love to hear other ideas or stories on this topic. Please share with us what you think!

Sweetest Words Update. (Kim)

Well our life has officially become "more" busy! *Peter and his brother *Q  have stayed with us this last weekend and are moving back in today, so we are now up to 10 kids. *Peter is thrilled. He is a hard kid, but I think him having some control over his life will help with his behavior, we have already seen improvements!  The plan is still for them to go to a kinship placement in CA, but you never know how things will really turn out! We'll keep you posted!!

*names have been changed for privacy

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Great Posters (Melissa)

The Dave Thomas foundation is an excellent foster care resource.  I am in love with these posters they give out.  




Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sweetest Words! (Kim)

I received the sweetest phone call a couple of days ago, I wasn't home so it was left as a message, but still sweeter than ever.

In a past post I talked about having to let two little boys go because of my surgery and they had to move from our home to  a respite home (which is a home that cares for them short term until they can return back to original foster home) to a different foster home.  It was awful to watch these boys be moved around. My biggest goal in being a foster parent has always been to make sure we were committed 100%, I didn't want them to be moved around because of us. They have already been through enough they don't need to  go through anymore.  Well this time it was out of my control, because of my recovery I physically could not take care of them.  So with heavy hearts we talked with the boys and explained the best we could what was going to happen.  They were moved to a great foster home and we have been able to stay in contact with them, but it still has impacted them!

Anyway back to the phone call. The foster mom called me and said she was talking to *Peter and he said " I want to go back home to my family." She then asked him "Who is your family Peter?" He said " You know the one with Zach and Chase." She went to the computer and pulled up my blog and showed him a picture of us and he said " yes, that is My family!"
Wow, I was so touched and crying! I called the foster mom back and thanked her for sharing. I then got to talk to Peter on the phone and he said "Mom where are you?" I told him I was at home and he said " Mom I told *Sara I want to come back home to you!"
Lets just say it was a very emotional day for me, and I'm sure for Peter too!

We are not sure what is going to happen, but it is a possibility that the boys may come back home to us. We will keep you updated as things progress. Sitting around the table to eat has not been the same since they have been gone, there is a definite void in our family without them!  We just love these boys!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ethel's Story

This is a story of a very special strong woman who had some very difficult times in foster care, but still managed to pull through and come out on top. I think we can all learn from her story! As you read her story take note of her math teacher, we need more people like this math teacher to step up and take an interest in kids, because you never know what kind of a difference you will make in a child's life! You could be the one that helps a child's not so great story turn into a good story.

Ethel's Story
I was conceived in a mental health facility. My mother and father were not mentally capable of caring for me, so I became a ward of the court at six weeks old. I grew up in the DC foster care system, separated from my brother and sister, until I was emancipated. I did not know what day I was born until I became an adult and requested my birth certificate.In many of the foster homes I experienced either psychological or physical abuse. I was beaten with water hoses, broomsticks, ironing cords, and one day even with the iron. Another time I was punched in the eye, and my eye was blackened. At thirteen years old I had become a runaway from the system. It was a cold winter night and I had nothing on but a blouse, and jeans. I had no shoes or coat on. I spent my first night as a runaway sleeping under a car, and later I slept "under" someone's house.
Later I experienced life in a girls’ group home on Kalorama Road. One of the girls tried to stab me. I am marked with a scar to remember the day I fought her for my life. By fifteen years old, I was suicidal and I tried to kill myself. I became teenage alcoholic. At sixteen I became pregnant my junior year in high school. My social worker at Family and Child Services Agency (CFSA) told me that they would not be able to find a home that would accept me with my baby. So she also encouraged me to have an abortion. “I want to keep my baby.” I cried out. How could the system hear this cry when they did not hear the cries of my being abused, and molested?
I had all odds against me and I felt so hopeless. I was moved to a group home in SE. (right off of 28th and Naylor Rd, SE). I wanted to finish school, and keep my baby. I remember walking down the hallway at Anacostia High School, and there was this cloud on the school bulletin board that said, “With God all things are possible."
I took the cloud off the board. I took it home, and taped it to my pregnant belly. I asked God for forgiveness, then I said, “According to your word you said, ‘With you all things are possible." God moved on my behalf. Although my son was taken
and placed in Saint Ann's, a month later we were back together in another foster home.
I did graduate from Theodore Roosevelt High School. My 10th grade math teacher at Anacostia SHS was the only person who encouraged me to go to college. She was there with a willing ear to listen a shoulder to lean on when I needed someone to talk to. She still is a listening ear today. I wrote her letters for over 28 years; although we only lived twenty minutes apart. It was quite therapeutic to have someone to write to. The staff in the group home or social worker did not believe I was intelligent enough to attend college. I went to Potomac Job Corps for two years, was awarded the Most Ambitious Student Award.
After emancipating out of the system both my son and I were homeless. We lived with different people and had to move at least ten times. I was in many abusive relationships with guys.
Nine years later I had a beautiful baby girl, who is now twenty- years old. She is the mother of my first born grandson, who is five months old. Raising two children as a single mother was not easy, but God was my provider.
Later I got the courage to enroll in college. In 1996, I began my undergraduate studies at Strayer University, I made the Dean’s list, and the President’s List, and received my Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. In 2008, I graduated with honors with a Master's in Public Administration, also from Strayer University. I’m grateful because God saw me through.

The rest of Ethel's story is written in "The Heart of A Silent Cry" –By Ethel Carolyn Talley
available on and soon on
E-mail Ethel at for more information.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

a hoot and a half (Melissa)

In our house, this cute kid would be called a hoot and a half.  I am not sure where that saying came from, but dang this kid is funny.  What a great sense of humor.  I hope you enjoy.

Are you part of "the club?"

ANCSS Oratorical Event 2010: Caleb - "In the Club" from Academy of the New Church on Vimeo.

My adoption dilemma (Melissa)

My problem is when people ask me questions about the kids being so close in age.

 Let me explain:  When we are out and about and I have the twin toddlers and the 2 preschoolers with me. I get asked a lot if Elly (one of the preschoolers) is a friend or if I am babysitting.  I love her and I want to claim her. She is mine.  I don't want to introduce her as the adopted child. She is 4 months younger than my biological daughter. When I say, "no, they are sisters" I get the next question.  "Are they twins?"   They are already confused as it is.  Mia asked the other day if they were twins. So I don't feel right lying and saying "yes".  Just yelling "It's none of your business" grabbing the kids and running off seems a bit socially strange.  So I have tried to steer clear of that, for now at least.  

My solution for now is just to say that they are irish twins.  Since the definition of that is kids born in the same year.  
But what do you get asked?  
Do you have anything better for me to say?  
Anyone else with a problem like this?  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Is There Safety In These Numbers? (Kim)

  I got this article off of a great website, read it and let us know what you think.

Is There Safety In These Numbers?

I have always been told that there is safety in numbers.  Whether taking a late night bus ride, going to a night club or simply taking a tour of a new city the mantra is still the same – it’s safer to be a part of a group.  Does this still ring true when we consider the youth in the foster care system in our country?  The numbers of children and youth in foster care in the United States has been steadily on the incline.  Let’s take a look.

The Foster Care Numbers
According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) FY 10 data October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010, there were 408,425 children in foster care on September 30, 2010.  Four hundred eight thousand, four hundred and twenty five children and youth ages 0 to 20 years were in foster care last September.  The largest percentage (8%) was age 17.

Where were these children living?
Forty-eight percent (48%) or 194,900 were placed in a foster home with a non-relative.
Nine percent (9%) or 36,607 were in an institution.
Six percent (6%) of those youth or 25,066 were placed in group homes.
Two percent (2%) were runaways.
There is no safety is these numbers – they are UNACCEPTABLE.

Why The Increase?
Child abuse and neglect are not new phenomenon. Are there really more cases of abuse and neglect that warrant removal of a child from their home?  It often seems that way as the cases that make it into the headlines are becoming more gruesome.  Could it be that we have succeeded in raising awareness so we have come to a place where there is increased reporting?  That may hold a bit of truth also but neither of these things gets to the root of the problem.  What we need to ask ourselves is how do we better protect our children?

There Is NO Safety In These Numbers!
How do we protect our children?  Helping couples plan pregnancies, offering more parenting classes and stress management workshops, access to better health care and mental health services, improving the education system and offering quality after school programs, creating jobs that pay living wages, strengthening laws against pedophiles and abusers, and any number of other things may have an impact.  There is no magic bullet available to keep our children safe.  One thing I know for sure is that we cannot let the conversations cease.  It takes a village to raise a child in a safe, nurturing home and community.  THANK YOU to all of the organizations and individuals who are positively impacting the lives of children and families daily.

Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer

Melissa and I say Thank You to all of you also, you are wonderful!

Barry's Adoption Story

Surprise Adoption. 

Imagine this with me . On March 5, 201 0 it was a friday I'd never forget , a white van pulls along side my house and out hopes a little person and my eyes light up ! But wait let's take it back a week before . I get a call from the director saying " I have a placement for you that needs to happen very quickly " keeping in mind I just had a child leave my house a month before so here I was waiting a year to get a child and they are coming back to back ! :). I go 50 miles to meet this child to make sure we are a match my agency didn't have much to tell me only his social worker and his name . I'm a African -American and I remember my director giving a name that seemed ethnic to me . Can you imagine my surprise to see a little Caucasian child sitting at the table ! (Lol) It didn't matter to me I was just a little shocked by the name . Well we proceed with the meet and greet it went great! The social worker and my self step to the side and began to talk. First thing she says to me is can you take him cause he needs to move next friday ! I'm saying WHOA so soon ! Then I said of course his room is all ready ! 

Now friday is here . He is all moved in and he looks so small and scared . He didn't say much at first I ride him around town to see the area then he began to talk and that's when I heard a little voice say "DAD". It melted my heart instantly and a knew then he was mines . Now don't think we didn't have any hadrships because we did ! Months go by and he is impoving everyone is happy for him , then his social worker comes to visit and tells him he won't be able to go home and she pulls me aside and tells me his mother has signed he rights away and at that moment I'm heartbroken for him . His social worker asks him about the type of family he wanted he said two parents and a brother .

Now its time to find him a family . His social worker had ask me before she left "Would you consider adopting him ?". I replied "You didn't even have to ask". The seach is on. She finds the exact family he was looking for , I'm crushed I thought I had lost him I didn't want to influence is desicion so I just packed him a bag and sent him on . For three days I cried and prayed. My family and friends were upset for me . The social worker called 3 days later and said "He wants YOU and only you , he wanted to come back the first night but we wanted him to try it out " . Greatful and relieved was my heart. When he came home and jumped into my arms and said "Daddy I missed you so much" ! And I asked him one simple question "Can I be you father?" He told me and this is no lie "You already are Dad" . I told the social worker you can stop the search now we are a family . 

I didn't think they would even consider asking me because of our differences but my director had already told them I would be perfect for him all you have to do is ask him . After we cleared everything up it was time to get the ball rolling on the adoption Every one was excited ! It only took 3 months complete everything on March 9, 2011 I adopted one of the most kind hearted grateful children I have ever met , and I'm proud to call him my son . 
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Barry's foster story

Guess what?  We got our first story.  And what an amazing story it is.  Thank you so much for sharing this with us Barry.  

> In 2008 I was a young 20 year old African-American Male in some sort of "crossroads" in my young life . I was working 50 hours a week in a daycare as a teacher something I really wanted to do and I thought I was satisfied but I wasn't for some reason . For weeks I wondered what should I do next ,where do I go from here. Something was missing in my life but what? I wasn't ready to go to on the road to college , I'm doing what I love which was working with children what's next ! ? Then one night I flopped on to the edge of my bed and there was this AD that said "Become a Foster Parent and Change a Life". It was like everything made since to me again ! As much as I love working with kids, I enjoy taking care of kids even MORE! 

> At this point after seeing the AD I started to dout myself wondering if these workers would take me seriously . I was now terrified to call . Why? Maybe because I was young with a 1 bedroom apt and only 2yrs before I had just graduated high school . You ever heard the saying "God works in Mysterious Ways" ? Around this time of myself being scared to call the agency I went to a good friend of mines ,who also use to be my elementary school art teacher, and where were talking about my future and what I wanted to do . I told her I wanted to become a foster parent but I need another bedroom . After I had left her house the next day she calls me and leaves a message , she says " I don't know why I didn't mention it last but I have the perfect place I can rent to you at a dirt cheap price to help you out !" I was stunned ! 

> Now that I had my place it was time to make the call I was terrified of making . I got an interview with the Director of the agency . At first glance she looked really intimidating , but as I sat down and we began to talk she was an awesome person to talk to , I loved her spirit . She asked me to tell her about myself , and more like where do I begin ! :) Do I begin to tell how I was a neglected child ,should I tell how my sisters ended up in foster care ,how I almost ended up in foster care ,how my mother and father were addicted to drugs, how my grandmother raised me from age 5 ,or how I had just planned the funeral of my father at age 19 with very little help ? At the end she asked me two questions. 1 ) How did you hear about my agency ? I told her I had saw the AD in a newspaper she replied and said that's funny I never put a AD in that paper and we both were like WOW that's God! 2) Why do I want to be a foster Parent ? I know the feeling , I've been hurt by a broken family not knowing what's next , I can related to these childern on so many levels and to prove to them that there is hope and success at the end of the tunnel . I want to change lives. She then told me ,"Normally I would say you are too young to do this but I believe in you and love your spirit and I know I'm gonna have to fight with my bosses to approve you BUT I'm willing to do that for you . And from that day a GREAT friendship began , we talk all the time take trips and have a great time " YES ! In just I few months I had a foster care liscense . ! 

> It was close to a year until I welcome my first foster child and it was on his birthday ! He was a piece of work . Soon he left do to a few conflicts . Then a month later I got another child .... But that's another awesome story :) 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Is it hard to get a foster care license? (Melissa)

No, it is not that hard to get licensed to foster children.  Keep in mind each state is different.  There are also different agencies you can work with.  So this is just a brief list on what you have to do to get licensed.  My experience is with Utah.

1-  You must take classes.  We have to take 32 hours (8 classes) of pre-service training.  After licencing you must have 12 hours every year for the main caregiver and 4 for the secondary.
2-  Fill out an application.  It has everything from a background check (if you have lived in another state within 5 years it takes longer) to reference letters to a doctors note.
3-You need to get a home study done.  For the first few years, I cleaned my house spotless.  Complete with cleaning out closets, but I have relaxed since then.  I do clean my house, but they really don't care how organized your shoes are.

The complicated part is all the rules.  Here are a few.
      a. You must lock up medications and cleaners.  Sounds easy, right?  Well, don't forget the dishwasher and laundry detergent.
     b.  If you want a placement under 2, you must have a gate.
     c. don't forget your fire extinguisher

Now that I am sitting here typing and listening to my kids beg for food, I am going to go the easy route.  The ctrl c route.

 So here is some info from the Utah Foster Care Foundation's website.

•  Foster parents must be emotionally stable.
• A foster parent may be with or without their own children.
•  Foster parents and persons 18 years and over living in the
home pass a criminal background screening.
•  Foster parents must provide veri cation of stable income,
su fficient to meet the needs of the family.
• Foster parents must be legal permanent US residents.
•  Foster parents must provide a medical reference letter for each
•  Foster parents must provide the State Offi ce of Licensing the
name, address, and phone number of four references.
•  Foster parents may be licensed to care for up to three children
at a time.
•  Foster parents may not have more than two children under the
age of two living in their home.
•  Foster parents must keep con dential information shared by the
agency and shall sign a statement of con dentiality at the time
of licensure.
•  Foster parents must provide routine transportation.  Drivers must
have a valid Utah driver's license.
•  Foster parents may not use corporal (physical) punishment.
• Foster parents need patience and the ability to make a          
commitment to children in need.
Please note that completing training and receiving a
license does not guarantee that DCFS will place a  
child in your home.
•  The home shall be clean, in good repair and shall provide for
normal comforts in accordance with accepted community
•  Foster parents may rent or own the home.
• The home must be free from health and fire hazards and must
have a working smoke detector on each fl oor and at least one
approved fire extinguisher.
•  Each child in foster care must have a separate bed. Children of
the same sex may share a room.  No more than four children
are permitted in a single bedroom. A minimum of 80 square
feet must be provided in a single occupant bedroom or a
minimum of 60 square feet per child in a multiple occupant
•  The home must have a telephone.
• The home must have an adequately supplied fi rst aid kit.
Medications must be kept in locked storage.
• Firearms and ammunition must be securely locked.
• Foster parents must have a written plan of action for
emergencies and disasters.
• Foster parents will not be licensed to provide both day care
and foster care at the same time.

Okay, I will lay off the crtl c for now.  There you have it.  Not too complicated, right?

If you are not a foster family, what are your thoughts?  Does this sound hard?  Kim and I became friends 11 years ago, because I had already taken the classes and it was tough to get through them without a babysitter.  So when I found out that she was going to take them, I called her up and told her I can help with her kids and we haven't hung up the phone yet.  

If you are already licensed, was it hard?  Is your state similar in rules?  What helped you through?

(disclaimer:  I didn't take the photo on this post.  It is from this website:   How sweet is that little face?) 

That "ah-ha" moment...

     I was just remembering back when Beyonce' was about 3 or 4 years old and we were sitting at the kitchen table.  Beyonce' was looking at her hands, she started turning her hands over looking at the tops and then the palms and then the tops again, she did this several times and then in a panicked voice said "Mom, I'm brown!"  It was a really cute and tender moment, but also a nice realization to me that young children don't come into the world seeing color.  Wouldn't it be great if  we could all take a lesson from them!
     Of course that began a series of questions as to why mommy is white and Beyonce' is brown.  The conversations still continue to this day about Beyonce's beautiful skin color.  Beyonce' was bothered by being the only "brown" child in our family, so we knew we should change that, if we could.  Just talking about things, however well intentioned, doesn't always change the way our children feel about themselves.  We didn't want her to feel like there was anything wrong with her color, so when the next opportunity presented itself (and the opportunity after that!), we added more "brown" children to our family and Beyonce' loves it!  We love it!  Our family is very diverse and it is wonderful, we wouldn't change it for anything in the world!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Every Child Needs A Family!

Foster Care Project for Children
Every Child Needs A Family!

Please share with us!


Alyssa's cute comments: (She is only 4)
I would like to share a couple of the cute comments my daughter has recently said to me that really help brighten my days!
We are very open with our children about their adoption stories, and they are aware that they didn't come from my belly. Well the other day out of the blue Alyssa said to me " Mommy I really wish I could have come from your belly!" I just hugged her and told her I wished she could have too, but she was very special and got to come to our family a different way and just because she didn't come from my belly didn't make her any less mine!
This morning we were talking and Alyssa said to me "C* is our biological mom, but we don't call her mom because we don't live with her anymore huh mom." I said " yes that's right Alyssa." Then she got all happy and said, "I am so excited that you are my mommy!" Talk about making my day!! She is always saying the cutest things to me.
We do have hard days, but the sweet comments like this make it all worth it!
I do believe in being open about adoption with your children, and I think the younger the better. It is great to listen to Breanna (5) and Alyssa tell about their story. I don't ever want my children to think that I tried to keep anything from them, so I feel it is better that they know from the beginning. I just start small, and fill in the blanks as they ask. You will know what they are ready to hear because they will ask!