It’s Our Responsibility

Brian Borgman and his wife were foster parents to a hurting child who greatly disrupted their home. Please listen to part 1 of his interview with FamilyLife Today. It is less than 30 minutes.

Part 1 will help you understand the NEED for quality foster parents. (The second part gives insight into adoption from foster care — though, each state does things a bit differently. I don’t necessarily agree with everything expressed in Part 2. However, Part 1 is a good start.) Brian Borgman is a pastor and also the author of After They Are Yours.

.

“You know, it’s interesting to me—we have a major crisis in America in the foster care system. There are not enough families . . . to take care of all of them. The only organization in the country large enough to address this need is the church because there are over 400,000 churches. If each church had one family in it that would care for a foster care child, we’d immediately empty out the foster care system with trained families to know how to care for them. But that’s not happening.

. . . To me, I think this is one of the most sacred callings of a church, and the people of that church, to stop and really do a census in their community: “What’s happening in the foster care system in our community? . . . Why are there so many children that don’t have a family to care for them?” Then, secondly, ask the question, “What’s our responsibility?” -Dennis Rainey

.

Currently, in our local county, there are only 18 FAMILIES licensed by Children Services. At any given time, there are 90 to 130 children in the county’s custody. Think about those numbers.

What can you do to care for children? Understand this: NOT every couple (or individual) should be foster parents. But you can assist a family that IS caring directly for children.

The need is great.

It is the responsibility of the church to step up.

my-community

.

.

- – – -

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

.

.

.

.

.

washable

Oh, mischief.

Moriah loves markers. So when I found Crayola’s Pip Squeaks (washable markers), I thought they were worth a try. And they were on clearance.

We’ve been in all sorts of trouble since then. Markers can color on so.much.more than crayons

Example from today: After playing outside in the snow, Moriah was found quietly sitting on the couch. She was coloring herself. They stained her hands a little but it did wash off by the end of the day.

IMG_20150218_123102 IMG_20150218_123030 IMG_20150218_123105.

She is learning. We’ve been stuck inside a lot this week. We went out for a few minutes yesterday and almost an hour today with Dad.

IMG_4309a-web IMG_4315b-web

.

Feb2015_IMG_20150216_130937 Feb2015_IMG_20150216_131026

.

.

- – – -

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

.

.

.

.

.

oceans

The song Oceans by Hillsong is meaningful to several people in my life. People whom I love. People at different places in life. People who all need grace. I need grace, Lord! I am Yours and You are mine.

God finds us when we feel afraid. He is there to rescue us when we call out to Him.

grace-abounds(Source: HE calls me lovely.)

.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will standI will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and you won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine
.

.

I found these gorgeous prints by HE calls me lovely. Check out all her work! I could look at her page all day:

spirit-lead-me(Source: HE calls me lovely.)
.
carry-you(Source: HE calls me lovely.)
.
weary(Source: HE calls me lovely.)

.

.

- – – -

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

.

.

.

.

.

 

absence and presence

When other adoptive parents or adult adoptees share thoughts about the difficult side of adoption, I want to share it. I do NOT want to be melodramatic. But, really, our community needs to talk about it.

Tragedy is part of our families’ stories. Our children’s stories.

Josh Hamby is an adoptive parent living in Africa. He wrote a piece at The Archibald Project that is worth your time.

Here’s a sample:

“Sin and grace, absence and presence, tragedy and comedy, they divide the world between them and where they meet head on, the Gospel happens.” – Frederick Buechner

I can’t think of a better way to describe adoption.  . . .

The call to explore adoption shouldn’t be centered around what we want. It’s a last resort for a child who has experienced tragedy. (And while I’m here, can I say those kids aren’t marketing materials? Because they aren’t, so stop using them as such.) The higher on the priority list the needs of the child are, the lower on the list of options adoption becomes. This makes adoption an extremely difficult and unglamorous journey. It isn’t always the best option, and thus we put ourselves at risk for pain.

I use that Buechner quote because I believe that’s where adoption lies – in the middle of sin and grace, absence and presence, tragedy and comedy. Sin means men and women suffer from poverty and struggle to provide, absence of family is a reality for abandoned children, and tragedy is what we can call those and every other example in the book.

But grace is what awaits all of us who seek refuge from sin. It walks alongside a single mother struggling to provide and instead of taking her children from her, tells her that keeping her children is a possibility worth pursuing. Presence is what every child deserves to feel – whether from biological family or adoptive. Comedy is joy in the resolution – whatever that ends up being.

If you have the desire to adopt, I encourage you to bathe it in prayer. Hold your motives with open hands so they may be formed and shaped to look more like the Father’s heart. Adoption isn’t for every family and it isn’t for every child.

And maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe the adoption journey, as hard as it is, doesn’t always have to end in adoption. But by grace and by God, if it ends in us looking more like Christ, it is well.

.

Read the full post HERE.

gospel-in-adoption

.

.

- – – -

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

.

.

.

.

.

Of Loss

My experience as a foster parent is limited. We have cared for only nine children and, by the providence of God, we adopted one of those children He placed in our home. During these past four years, though, I have learned that foster care and adoption involve transition and change. And, usually, loss too.

Even though I know it comes with the territory, I don’t always feel prepared for these changes.

  • I hurt with fellow foster parents who are heartbroken for the kids who have left. I hurt with foster families who are doing all they can to allow a child with challenging behavior to remain in their home.
  • I hurt for birth families who are struggling during the separation.
  • I hurt with children who are away from their birth family — whether temporarily or permanently.

The losses are real. The pain is real.

Sometimes I feel completely surrounded by hurting people.

Even in adoption, I know it is not win-win. Our beautiful daughter has been with us since birth. I realize I have that privilege to raise my feisty girlie because her first mother chose not to parent. She will always be regarded with respect in our home — I feel a deep debt to her as I raise our daughter. Yet there is a void in our daughter’s life and in her birth mother’s life.

I can’t imagine the sorrow (sprinkled with comfort, in some cases) that a birthmom feels when she sees her child loved and cared for by another woman. That struggle could become unbearable. (I know each adoption is different. The circumstances and agreements are different. Some children enter a new family after relinquishment, others after removal by the state. I’m not an expert. But I am calling us ALL to feel with and hurt for one another.)

Hurting people often act in fear. They do or say things that they wouldn’t otherwise. There’s a common saying: “Hurting people hurt people.”  And it’s true.  Foster families (both the caregivers and the other children in the home) endure it often.  Although it still hurts, understanding WHY a person is behaving a certain way helps us to empathize.

“Everyone needs compassion, a love that’s never failing / Let mercy fall on me …”

10865888_10152662431346179_7838591350538550879_o

I don’t respond well to accusations, snide remarks, or rude behavior.  YET I know I could be that person making those remarks tomorrow (or today) if I let my focus shift away from what God has done and is doing and onto myself.  I could easily be the anxious one.

In these challenging times, God calms my spirit and reminds me that He is sovereign:

“If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;
    whoever attacks you will surrender to you.

“See, it is I who created the blacksmith
    who fans the coals into flame
    and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;
     no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.”  -Isaiah 54:15-17

.

God is the Sovereign One! He is with me. He cares. My well-being is His concern.

I like what Matthew Poole’s commentary says: “Both the blacksmith that makes all warlike instruments, and the soldier that uses them, are my creatures, and totally at my command, and therefore they cannot hurt you without my leave [i.e. permission].”

My pastor just finished a series in Esther. He put it this way: “Esther affirms the providence of God. Nothing just “happens” in life. In fact, if just one event could occur outside of the sovereign influence and care of the Lord, then we could not trust Him. But it can’t. The Lord is in control of everything” (Seeing God When You Can’t See God, February 1, 2015).

Even in transition. Even in change. Even in the midst of loss, God cares.

Understand this: That difficult person in your life is placed there by God. “His life, his strength, his skill, are all in my hands, and he can do nothing which I shall not deem it best to permit him to do. . . . I bare [i.e. confirm that I] made him, and he is wholly under my control and at my disposal” (Barnes’ Notes).

suffer

Life, in general, often involves loss, death, estrangement, removal, change.  We cannot escape heartache in this broken world.

I am learning to let myself fully feel loss and to grieve with / for my children and their first families. I don’t always do it well. But I know we can learn from one another. We can listen and remind ourselves that God is at work in and through these circumstances. One day He will make everything right again.

.

- – – -

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

.

.

.

‘Riah Mommy

Our little sassy pants is closely observing our every move. She actually wants to change diapers, wash dishes, and make meals — all the daily tasks required in a household of five. She is under my feet constantly. And correcting me when I alter the routine. (I know how you feel now, Mom!)

She is determined and confident.

Lately, she has been carrying around two baby dolls. She cares for them and speaks to them quietly. They get their clothes changed each morning and they get put to bed in their own spots each night. She requests that we all call her “mommy.”

With this spunky three-year-old, all my actual “mom jobs” take about twenty times longer. But, most days, it’s okay. She is learning.

Me: Thank you for being a helper, Moriah.

Moriah: I not Riah! I Mommy!

Me: Ok. Thank you, Riah Mommy.

Moriah: Thank YOU.

IMG_3847a IMG_3849a IMG_3854a IMG_3857a

.

.

- – – -

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

.

.

.

.

.

Perspective of a Christian Foster Parent

In 2014, we experienced several changes in our home and in our hearts: Part 2 (read part 1 here)

.

If you’ve been to SeaWorld, you are familiar with the “splash zone” (a.k.a. soak zone). Part of the show involves a giant killer whale intentionally splashing the audience with water.

sins_splash_zone

At these attractions, many people purposefully sit close to the action (some even wear rain ponchos). Others sit way up top, enjoying the show while avoiding the water.

A few months ago I told my husband that, as a foster family, I often feel like we are in the “splash zone.”  We are close enough to hurting families that we, too, feel the consequences of their choices.

It can be slippery and dangerous in the splash zone.

It’s interesting to me that in the Bible, immediately after chronicling the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11, the writer says in Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Sin so easily entangles us all, doesn’t it?

Even in faith and obedience, we need to be reminded that we live in a broken world. Remain on this course while keeping your gaze on the Savior. He is perfect, yet He stayed near sinners while on earth. He knows what it’s like to be in the splash zone.

As the Church gets close to our hurting neighbors, we see first hand that the Enemy devalues family. Satan does everything he can to pull families apart. He is like a giant killer whale. And foster families are getting drenched.

I get weary of being wet.  To be honest, I often want to move to the top row.

So I turn to the One who does not grow weary:

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. 

              -The Bible, Isaiah 40:28-31 (NASB)

Our particular family is not anything special. We know we are actually quite ordinary. We are weak, in fact.  And YET the Defender of the fatherless says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

This is where God has called our family for now. To remain in the splash zone.

.

.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heartLord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need YouWhere sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in meLord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You’re my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

.

.

.

- – – -

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

.

.

.

.

.

 

‘Tis the Season

Since the end of October, two new friends have joined our family. Moriah has enjoyed playing with both of the little sweeties. Our house is fuller and louder. Our hands are full of good things. And, of course, this time of year is extra busy, in general, with holiday festivities.

I can tell Moriah is worn out from all the activity around her. Most gatherings result in tears.

Here are some photos from last Sunday evening’s program at church:

IMG_2883a IMG_2888a

IMG_2895a

.

We have seen Santa three times this month already. The first time involved screaming, the second she stood quietly in front of him (but not close enough to touch), and the third . . . well, it went a little better:

IMG_3042a

 .

We may be tired but we can’t say we are bored! : )

I wish I could share all the sweet photos of Riah with the babies. She loves them both, and they will be missed when they leave. They are great babies! And we are thankful for the relationship we are building with their parents.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

.

.

- – – -

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

.

.

.

.

.

In the Waiting

In 2014, we experienced several changes in our home and in our hearts: Part 1 (read Part 2 here)

.

This past spring, we asked Children Services to put us on the bottom of their call list. We were still willing to provide foster care but we were evaluating if it was best for our family long term. We felt Moriah did not understand all the comings and goings of her friends.

We needed time to process.

You see, on one hand, we always expect that the new children in our home will be here temporarily. We know that’s the goal of foster care: we provide a safe environment so that parent(s) can work through issues. Then, the children return home (or, sometimes, to a family member).

However, we also know that our little family is not “complete.”  And we have room for more children in our house. Moreover, we want another child to be here permanently. And, in many ways, we are ready for consistency.

So during the spring and summer we were more purposeful in reviewing profiles of children around the U.S. waiting for “forever families.” We prayed over them and submitted our Home Study to various caseworkers. We read several Child Study Inventories and discussed if we COULD care for certain challenges and, ultimately, if we SHOULD. During that time, we saw many doors close. So, in the Waiting, we continued to look at photos of children and wonder how God would meet their needs. Moreover, we grew more comfortable adopting an older child.

In the Waiting, we also started an adoption savings account (yet we do not feel this is the time to pursue private adoption). Still, we added a few dollars here and there to the account as we waited.

In the Waiting, we continued to get phone calls from Children Services and welcomed new kids into our home. By the end of the summer, three children had left our home in four months’ time. We know their Creator cares for them, and we continue to pray for their families (and keep in touch!).

By fall, we were still in the Waiting. Our 3-bedroom home is modest but it has room for more children. At that time Moriah’s bedroom had one bunk bed while the spare bedroom contained a crib and changing table on one side and a desk with my dusty craft supplies on the other. That other side was starting to bother me. I felt like I was just storing tools and pretty paper that would never get used. I was not annoyed that the “stuff” was getting neglected — no, I was bothered that the space could be used more purposefully.

Once day, I told Joey that we need to clear out my supplies and prepare the room for children. In faith, we should get ready.

“Are you sure?” he said.

Yes, of course. I was embarrassed it took me so long to realize where my priorities laid. One weekend, I sorted through the piles and kept some things that I could use in my pocket scrapbooks. We moved a small desk to our (now cramped) bedroom and I started giving away the rest. I was in a different season when those supplies were purchased, and I was delighted to share them with others who can use them now.

(The following day, we accepted a baby and an unborn sibling. So the room project went on hold for several months — and we were still in the Waiting.)

waiting

.

Six weeks after we rearranged the rooms, our pastor said something that resonated. He gave words to what we were feeling:

Don’t equate waiting on God with inactivity. Waiting on God means we submit to God and invite Him to lead us, work in us, and work through us.” -Pastor Brad, Esther 5 Sermon on December 7, 2014

That statement echoed what the Holy Spirit had been whispering to us. Act in faith. Trust that God is who He says he is and that He will keep His promises.

In the Bible, Hebrews chapter 11 lists accounts of people who acted in faith and were commended for it. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. … And without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:1,2,6).

Here, at the end of 2014, we are still in the Waiting.

In the Waiting, we will continue to care for kids. We anticipate what God would do with our home as we get things “in order” for whomever He will bring to us.

Go to Part 2

.

.

.

- – – -

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

.

.

 

.