Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Word About Foster Parents And How to Encourage Them

I have spoken with many foster/adoptive parents over the years, and I know I speak on behalf of many of them in what I am about to write about.  One of the difficult things that you don’t really anticipate when you adopt or foster a traumatized, troubled or difficult child is the judgment or opinions of curious onlookers that have the best intentions.  I want to help out with just a few tips.  When you decide to become a foster or adoptive parent, especially of an older or traumatized child, you do your best to prepare yourself in every way possible, and this is an area that many foster parents don’t expect.  Comments, opinions and judgments vary widely, and I don’t feel the need to get into specifics about what comments are the most common or what should be avoided the most, I just wanted to give a few notes or reminders on what to remember when you encounter a foster or adoptive parent.

1)      Remember to not only give grace to the child, but also to the parent.  When people decide to become foster parents, they are choosing to walk a child through darkness.  These are foster parents, not angels.  Many times, they are just trying to make it through the day or the hour, and to navigate the cloudy and uncertain waters of foster care or adoption.  Taking in a foster child is no walk in the park.  If you are a foster parent then you know what I am talking about.  You have seen a child shut you out and shut down emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.  You have seen a child become “unreachable”, and it ravages and rips your heart and soul apart.  You have wept over a child who hates you.  You have held a child who dumps all of his/her anger from their past into your lap.  You have cleaned up the mess time and time and time again, because you believe that this time, your child will go a little bit further.  They will walk with their head a little bit higher.  They will try a little but harder.  They will trust you a little bit deeper, and just maybe that this time around, you will have the hard won privilege of introducing them to a savior whose love will never let them down.  You have seen a child that will outlast you, outfox you and defeat you without even blinking or breaking a sweat, because their lives have given them the experience and smarts that no child should have.  A child who has lost their innocence, or rather, had it ripped away from them.  When you pick yourself up and try again, because your desperately committed and in love with this child that the God of the universe has divinely placed in your care.

2)      Remember that they are battling for this child’s soul.  Statistics say that 70% of children that have spent any amount of time in the foster care system will end up either in jail or in the sex trade at some point in their lives.  When foster or adoptive parents take a child into their home, they are drawing the battle lines with the devil himself.  They are storming the gates of hell.  They are welcoming oppression and a spiritual warfare that has been unprecedented in their lives until that first child steps over the threshold of their home.  When the child comes into the custody of their home, the clock starts ticking.  Their time of influence is running out.  Whether they are a temporary court ward that will end up back with their biological parents or if they are planning to adopt.  The child will either end up returning home at some point or becoming an adult and Satan has got a major head start in destroying this child’s life and future.  These foster parents are rolling their sleeves up and getting into the messy of this child’s life.  They are making a difference and an impact.  Satan has most likely ruined generations of this child’s family, and he isn’t about to sit passively by while us foster and adoptive parents waltz in and stop the cycle of abuse, neglect, addictions etc.  The battle is real and the battle is extremely tough.  You are in the fight of your life to keep your child from becoming just another statistic.  You are in the fight of your life to tip the scales.  To help your child rise above.  To believe that they are worth it.  To believe that they are more than just their label of foster kid.  To believe that they are worthy of the love of a Savior that is so deep and so wide and so vast that He came straight down from heaven where He sat at the right hand of the God of the universe so He could die for them.

3)      When you see a foster parent, try and remember to offer up a silent prayer, and simply say “doing a great job mom”, or “doing a great job dad”, even if you may think that the foster parent is being too harsh or too easy on the child in their care.  Instead, remember that this parent has only so much time to break their iron clad will and piece back together their broken heart.  It is an extremely fine line.  Your encouragement could mean the difference between the determination to continue or throwing in the towel.  I have a friend.  I won’t mention her name, but she will probably know that I am talking about her if she reads this.  I am a foster parent, and every time I get a new child in my home, she always buys him or her a new pair of robeez and collects clothes and toys to give them.  I don’t ask her.  She just does it.  It speaks volumes to me, and she probably doesn’t realize what a big part she plays in our journey through foster care and adoption.  I am always trying to be more like her.

4)      Lastly, remember eternity.  We are all on the same team, and we will have the victory.  Lets build each other up and help to strengthen each other to bring more people to the winning team.  Together, our main purpose is to be pulling people out of the flames of hell and introducing them to the healing power of Jesus and the opportunity to spend eternity with Him.

I hope my meager words have helped you understand the world of a foster parents just a little bit better.  God bless you all.

A Tale from Dutton Farm

He glared at me.  Staring me down.  “I am not doing that”, he said as he clenched his teeth. He was struggling severely in school with following directions and listening to teachers.  He was getting in fights.  We were hoping that this summer at Dutton Farm would help him get ready for his upcoming year.  I racked my brain quickly to come up with a plan that would help him learn to comply.  It was summertime and we were in the garden and he was supposed to water the tomato plants.  Nothing difficult or terrible.  He was not lazy, and he had done this happily before.  Something I was unaware of had upset him, and he was making a statement that he did not trust me and he was in control over his own life.  Dutton Farm had been open for about 18 months, and I had faced plenty of these kinds of situations by now.  However, I was still naïve, and I am pretty sure that this kid had coined the term ODD (obstinate defiant disorder).  He eventually slapped me across the face and then ran.  I chased him yelling that everything was going to be okay (maybe trying to convince myself of that), but he hid, and I couldn’t find him.  I gave up and walked inside defeated.  “I lost him”, I told my mom.  She wasn’t disappointed.  She wasn’t arrogant.  She didn’t even skip a beat.  She walked outside, and without even knowing where he was hiding, called his name very loudly and then told him to, “Get over here right now!!!”  Within 30 seconds, he comes walking out with his head hung low and tears streaming down his face.  The difference.  Relationship.  Trust.  She had known him and been intentionally involved in his life for years.  His father was gone and his mother was a drug addict and had walked out on him.  Twice.  He lives with his grandma who is poor and old.  We both knew these things, but she had traveled through darkness with him.  She was in the messy of his life.  She didn’t just waltz in with superiority trying to save the day and expect him to do as he was told.  She walked through pain with him.  She fed him, clothed him and invited him into her life, even though he was far from easy.  She had been through a long haul with him.  She knew so well how to not make it about her.  She was willing to let messy in.  She now had the hard won honor and privilege of introducing him to Jesus.  One boy that had fallen through the cracks of society, and she had gone beyond just being concerned.  She knew that Jesus loved this boy and had a plan for his life.  She decided to get involved.  To make a difference.

After hundreds and hundreds of these encounters, I am now finally learning one of the most valuable lessons that come when you are serving the poor, weak and broken for a long period of time.  They unintentionally give me a window deep within my heart.  When we work with the least of these for a considerable period of time, they will eventually bring out the selfishness and garbage in us.  We don’t like to see these things in ourselves, because then it means that we need to change.  They quickly reveal our weaknesses and who we really are inside.  I was working with someone who has significant mental illness the other day.  She had a meltdown.  I had a choice.  I could try and pull her out of it and figure out a way to make her okay, or I could just lie next to her and accept that I don’t need to have the answer.  It is enough for me just to lie next to her and hold her hand while she screams.  I am so glad that I chose to just lay next to her and shut my big mouth!  There is another rather rather large man that participates at Dutton Farm who functions at a 4 or 5 year old level continually barges through a group of people without saying excuse me and often times we do not see him coming and our of nowhere disrupts our conversation and spills our coffee, I now try and choose to use it as an opportunity to show grace and patiently help him understand.  I have discovered that my worst enemy was not outside of me, but inside!  It is easy to get a false view of ourselves when we are in the tidiness of our own home and sitting with others that are just like us.  Doing this work is not easy, because there most often are not any solutions to their problems or pain.  Through all of this, I had to decide if I was going to pretend that I was okay and throw myself into productivity and ignore the garbage so that I could prove how good I was, or if I was going to be conscious of the evil in my heart and work on being liberated from it!  The good news is that loving others that are disabled and broken will give us a front row seat into the heart of God!  When I am willing to jump into someone’s mess and stick it out, then I will be able to show them Jesus.  Who wouldn’t want to walk the hard road if we knew that we would end up there!?

foster parents and court

Samuel has a court hearing tomorrow at 9:00.  It’s a hard thing to explain.  When you are a foster parent and are in the day to day with your foster child, you don’t let yourself think of the lack of permanency or the long term plan.  You constantly push it to the back of your mind for the sake of the child.  You don’t think of the possible pain of losing that child.  You have to take the day that you have been given with that child, and do them justice by that day.  The child can’t afford a parent who is steeling themselves against the pain that the future might hold, so you dive in with your whole heart and depend on God to carry you through.  And then, its as if all of a sudden a court hearing creeps up on you and its as if it is staring at you and almost mocking you as you stare back fearing the worst.  Case workers, adoption workers, attorneys come over.  Your knees tremble, your heart is pounding, fear takes over and you realize how much you are not depending on an all powerful God who knew this child before the foundations of the earth were laid.  Although, my faith may be that of a mustard seed, that is all that that He needs.  He knows my innermost thoughts, He knows my dreams and nightmares, He is aware of every tear that falls.  He loves each and every child on this earth beyond our comprehension.  So I will trust Him with my fears.  I will trust Him with my dreams.  I will trust Him with my child.  Because He loves Him more than I do, and I trust His plan more than I trust my own.  I will lean on His word that says that He is a Father to the Fatherless and defender of the weak.  I will not fear, because my God goes before me and He will uphold me with His mighty right hand.  (Psalm 82:4, Psalm 68:5, Isaiah 41:10)

Samuel’s Story

The picture of his wide curious eyes peeking over a pink bunny blanket will forever be burned in my memory.  Samuel was not quite 2 months old when he was dropped off to us late on a cold December night and he was amazingly awake and alert. I remember being startled when I pulled him out of his car seat to find him in nothing but an oversized white onesie.  The cps worker mumbled some of the details he was required to give and then went out into the darkness leaving us with this tiny little baby boy that had barely escaped death that night.  With every baby that we have ever had from foster care, we have ended up in the hospital very quickly after their arrival.  With Samuel, he had RSV which turned into very severe bronchiolitis.  In so many words, the doctor said, “he is less than 48 hours away from death.  His airways will close and he will stop breathing if you don’t get him to the hospital immediately.”  We spent a week at Children’s Hospital trying to get his breathing stabilized.  His second escape from death’s door.  Satan is after this one, but God reached down twice with His mighty hand and rescued this little boy from the very clutches of death.  What a God we have!  He is mindful and cares for a helpless infant, and yet I question Him and His goodness with trivial things every single day!  Samuel’s parental rights were terminated in May.  He turns one on Thursday and is still awaiting permanency and adoption but remains at the mercy of Wayne County court.  When you think of it this week.  The week he turns one.  Pray for him.  Pray for his future.  A future filled with promise.  Pray that God will reach down once again and protect him from the harm that the evil one has planned.  Satan has destroyed generations of Samuel’s family.  He doesn’t intend on this child breaking his cycle of death and destruction.  He is putting up a pretty big fight.  God hears our prayers and tells us that “the prayers of the righteous are powerful.”  Help us lift Sam up in prayer and bring Him to the very throne room of heaven.  You can play a role in helping rewrite the story of his life.

Living Sacrifically to Give Generously

I read recently about a little 2 year old girl in an orphanage in China who died of starvation because of a cleft lip and an open palate.  The cost of the surgery that would have saved that little girl’s life was $250.  That is something that never would have stood in our way in saving one of our own children.  Let me say clearly that I am not so idealistic as to think that we must all take an oath of poverty, but I often wonder if we are neglecting the biblical command to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our everyday lives.  Every child matters deeply to our God, but too often, not to us.  Sometimes the need is so overwhelming and so big, that somehow we think that exempts us from doing anything.  There are countless children dying every single minute of every day and countless children languishing in foster care and countless children being destroyed by abuse, while we sit in our comfortable church pews and sing songs that make us feel good.  Don’t get me wrong, church is extremely important, but its not where our Christian walk stops, we MUST go from there and be a force for the kingdom!  We MUST go from there and get ready for battle and fight for the cause of Christ, to seek and save the lost!  We are blinded and lulled to sleep by the American Dream and the comfortable reality of our lives.  We need to wake up and get back in the race.  To throw off everything that distracts us or hinders us and fix our eyes on Jesus, keeping in mind the opposition that He faced, so we will not grow weary and lose heart! (Hebrews 12:1) Nobody can do everything, but everyone can and should do something.  I heard Mac Powell, the lead singer from Third Day, say “You are right, adoption and foster care is not for everyone, but its for a whole lot more of y’all than are doing it”.  We have an unbelievable amount of resources that could be used to save the lives of little children in our own city, state, country and world.  We can all sacrifice just a little bit more to help someone in need.  We can live sacrificially, so that we can give generously.  Maybe its giving up that mani/pedi to give more to an organization that helps starving children, or getting one less hour of sleep to dedicate to praying for the Lord to break your heart for children in the foster care system, you can even give up a Saturday to volunteer at a group home or old folks home to spend time with the lonely. Let us not get so caught up in the events of our own lives that we cannot be interrupted by the Lord’s calling.  We have to remember why we are here and take time to notice the needs of others around us.  We need to be intentional about being others focused and not self focused.  Let us not underestimate the hope that we have and the ability that we have to bring it to the world.