We’d been parents to one child for 5 years, then Little Dude was added to our family for about 2 and half months, during which time we had Big Sis and Little Bro added for 8 days. One thing I didn’t really see coming with these additions to our family was how it would affect my parenting, or rather how it would reveal areas I thought I was doing okay in.

  • I’ve always said that consistency in discipline was important, but when there’s 4 kids, it becomes more of a necessity. When there’s just one it would be easy to let things slide, and now that we’re back to one again we have to make more of a conscious effort to keep that consistency in taking care of disobedient actions or attitudes.
  • The importance of being a good example and doing what I ask them to do (or not do). I’d tell the kids to not to get upset over little things, but I would allow myself to, which leads to the next thing….
  • Apologizing. I’ve always tried to do this with Gracia and I had to apologize when Little Dude was here too. I don’t remember the details, but one day I hadn’t been patient with the kids. When I talked to them about it, I said, “I’m sorry. You two were not obeying, but even if you don’t obey it doesn’t mean that I can act wrongly.” Then I realized that’s exactly what I had been trying to teach them! When one would bug the other I would say, “Just because someone’s bugging you, doesn’t mean you can act wrongly.”
  • Be wise in choosing words. With one of the kids we had, we made a conscious effort not to use certain words. We avoided things like, “you were bad” or “good” but instead chose words like “you disobeyed” or “obeyed.” Which got us thinking that maybe those terms would be better for us to use with all the kids.
  • Don’t assume they’ll do wrong! I can’t remember where we heard this, maybe in one of our foster classes, but I failed many times in this one too. It’d be easy to say things like, “If you don’t….then….., and if you still don’t do…., then you’ll…..and then if you still don’t….”  You get the idea. Instead we tried to focus on the positive. “Once you do….then you can go play!” Or even thanking them for doing it beforehand shows that you trust them to do as their told. Even we adults perform better when people have higher expectations and show that they believe we’ll do a good job.
  • Going to the heart really does matter. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart* talks all about this! With kids it could be extra easy to try to get them to simply do as we say and not try to address the deeper issue, but the problem isn’t just that they disobeyed, or threw a tantrum, or didn’t share. Their problems go deeper, just like the rest of us, we all have the sin nature in us, and we all need to see it so we see our need for Christ.

*Amazon affiliate link.

As I’ve mentioned before, the week we had 4 kids in the house was rather…chaotic, crazy and stressful. Driving to visits, meetings, court, doctors. When at home trying to handle 4 kids ages 5 and under and of course it had to be one of the rainiest weeks ever so we couldn’t play outside as much. I found it interesting where I held to my thrifty ways during the business and where I deviated.

Not thrifty:

  • The night we got 2 more kids, Cameron headed to the store to purchase some things, including lots of sandwich makings for easy meals.
  • We also got gas station pizza that night.
  • When Cameron took the 2 kids to the Dr. he stopped by McDonald’s for lunch on the way home.
  • While we were a family of 6, I didn’t really abide by my Use Less Paper Towels rules.

On the other hand I still:

  • Checked clearance racks for new clothes for the 2 new kids (Not sure why, because we will get reimbursed for their clothing, but I just can’t help looking for the better deals).
  • Didn’t give in to paper plates and cups (although a couple times I did use paper towels for plates when we were eating finger foods).
  • Managed to earn me some swagbucks, although not as much as I would have if I’d had more time.

Earlier this week, right after Little Dude had left for his second overnight visit, we got a call saying that he would be going home…to stay. Part of the team was just going to let him stay there and not come back at all. Thankfully some of the team recommended that he come back with us to say good-bye. So he came back here and we had one last night with him, then this afternoon we went to the lake for a swim (one of his favorite things) and then dropped him off at his house.  I have so many things to say, I don’t know where to start, so I’m just gonna throw a bunch of my random thoughts out there.

  • The whole point of foster care is to be able to reunite kids with their families if it’s at all possible to do that while maintaining their safety, so in Little Dude’s case this goal has been accomplished.
  • He’s super excited to be back. I’m glad that he’s glad.
  • Gracia cried….multiple times…I thought it would be hard for her, but I didn’t realize how hard. He’s been with us for about 2 1/2 months and in a kid’s view that’s a very, very long time.
  • We feel like it was one of the best foster care situations for us to get as our first. Obviously he’s not a perfect kid since there are no perfect kids, but over all he was pretty good and obedient to us. His family treated us kindly and even thanked us, I know that’s not the case a lot of times.
  • I keep having thoughts of guilt, did I tell him about Christ enough? Did I just confuse him more? I know he saw me lose my temper at times. Did I spend enough quality time with him?
  • And I wonder about his future, will he remember us? If he does remember us, will it be good memories? Will we ever get to see him again? Will he miss us and ask about us?

I’m so thankful we got this opportunity to have him in our family. We feel like it has grown us in our parenting, it’s opened my eyes even wider than they’ve ever been before to the impact kids can have. I’ve been able to see an amazing servant-like side of my husband like never before. And I’m thankful for the big smile and exuberant energy that Little Dude brought to our home this summer. We’ll always love you Little Dude!

 

 

Orphanology – Rather ironically, I had never heard of this book until the girl babysitting for us while we took our adoption classes loaned it to me, and now it’s my very favorite book on taking care of orphans. But it’s not just for those interested in adopting, it’s all about how we as the church of Christ are obligated to step up to the plate and take care of needy children and it gives some practical ways of doing that (and not just by adopting).

 

Shepherding a Child’s Heart – If I were to recommend one book on parenting this would be it. The whole concept of going to the heart issue has been a goal of mine and Cameron’s with Gracia, and now with Little Dude, it’s been a reminder again of how just outward obedience isn’t enough.

 


Choosing to SeeI already gave my 2 cents on this book, but I will again. :) Mary Beth Chapman’s (wife to singer Steven Curtis Chapman) openness about her struggles with whether or not she was good enough to adopt really hit home with me and encouraged me.

 

Too Small to Ignore – Even though I can’t say I agree with everything in this book, the main premise of how important kids are really was a challenge to me, and to hear Wess Stafford’s  own personal story of abuse made it even more real. And did you know he was the president of Compassion International?

What great books have affected your life?

*These are all linked to my Amazon affiliate links, but if you don’t want to buy them see if your local library has them!

 

 

 

I’ve thought about writing this post for a very long time. Part of me really wants to share it and the other part of me, the part that doesn’t like to be vulnerable, wants to just stay silent on the matter. But after thinking about it, I want to be able to encourage people into fostering and/or adopting, and probably the best way is to share our journey. And what have I got to loose? My identity is in Christ, not in what others think of me…so here I go!

Cameron and I had talked about adopting when we were first married, but it was something that was way off in the future and honestly if you had asked me back then if I thought we’d ever get around to it, I would have probably answered, “no.” I was barely 19 when I got married and was pregnant before I was 20, so you might say it was a teenage pregnancy, although I turned 20 before little Gracia was born. :)

If you’ve been following my blog long enough, you might remember a couple of years ago I announced that I was pregnant, and then I miscarried. After the miscarriage Cameron and I started talking about adoption again, this time much more seriously. Now we both admit that it was for very selfish reasons. We were going to grow our family no matter how we had to do it.

However we didn’t think we could adopt for 2 main reasons:

1. Every time anyone talks about adoption they mention the extreme expense of it and we were living on 2 part time incomes and paying for Cameron’s schooling. So how could we afford adoption?

2. We were living in an 8 by 32 foot travel trailer. Would they even allow us to adopt a child in such a tight space?

After doing some research on the internet we discovered that while many types of adoption are expensive, adopting through the United States foster care isn’t! And you can adopt kids right here in our own country that need homes.

We went to a meeting intended to explain more about foster/adoption and we approached them about our living situation. To my surprise they didn’t just write us off and say no, but just that it would need to be considered.

After that we attended a foster/adoption class held by the Christian organization Buckner. The man teaching the class said he’d come to our place and see if we’d be able to adopt while in it. He came and measured, but couldn’t remember some of the specific laws, so he said he’d check and give me a call back. But while he was there he was such an encouragement to me. Some people who we talked to about us adopting had discouraged it. I already had apprehensions about if I really had what it takes to be an adoptive mom, and then the comments just added to it. So when the man from Buckner came and seemed to really be trying to make it work for us and just seemed to think we could do it, especially coming from someone who had worked in this area for years, it gave me some hope.

Later he called and said that no, our house did not meet Texas “play area” requirements. Now…I’m going to be very honest, I was relieved. I could now say that we tried and it didn’t work and I could get on with getting pregnant with our next child.

2 years later that “next child” still hasn’t come. Even though it’s been difficult God has faithfully taught me so much through it. I wanted to be pregnant so bad, it was all consuming to me.  Slowly, but surely God showed me that I was seeking joy and happiness in a baby. After a while I stopped buying pregnancy tests and looking up early pregnancy symptoms (even though I have them all memorized!). I believe God has been teaching me that adding to our family whether by birth or by adoption is not about me. It’s not about me making a perfect little family for myself.

When we moved here to Missouri, and out of the travel trailer “without enough play area”, we thought maybe now we could adopt, but we had a couple more concerns:

  1. What would the training center think, since we live on campus. We talked with leadership and got permission to pursue it, so that wasn’t and issue.
  2. We live in an apartment with no shower, we have a community shower/laundry house. There is other housing with their own showers, so we knew that if needed we could move, but to our surprise they had no problem with it and even told us that they had people with no indoor plumbing take kids (Amish maybe?).

So starting earlier this year we attended the classes to get first our fostering licence, then our adoption licence. Wanna know the really cool part? Unbeknownst to us another family in our missionary class also wanted to adopt and we ended up taking the classes together and even carpooling!

I struggled a lot (make that I still struggle a lot) with whether or not I’m good enough to be a foster/adoptive mom, but I’ve had to realize that no, I am not. In so many areas of my life I’ve run crying to  God saying, “I can’t do this!!!” And then I realize, no I can’t, and why did I ever think I could? Only an almighty God can do this. I must trust in HIM and not in myself.

Going through the foster classes opened our eyes to the huge need for foster parents. We were just attending so we could foster for the sole reason of adopting, but we kept hearing about the need for foster parents. Just a few days after signing the papers for our licences we got a call about a little boy who needed a place to stay THAT NIGHT. Gracia and I were out with friends eating ice-cream celebrating a birthday when Cameron called and told me. My gut reaction was no, but after getting home and praying about it with Cameron, I had no idea what we should do. A boy needed a home, NOW, but what if I’m not a good foster mom…what if  this…what about that. Finally we decided yes.

Little Dude has been with us over 2 months now. There have been some hard things, a couple of which I mention in this post, but I do not regret taking him in!! The longer he’s with us, the more attached we get.

We also took care of a sibling group, Big Sis and Little Bro for 8 days until they found a family that could take them more long term, we’re hoping to visit them sometime. :)

Through everything these last couple of years God has really worked on both mine and Cameron’s hearts. Slowly I started having more of a heart for the kids and not just wanting to do it to grow our family. Cameron says that he learned that kids aren’t a commodity. We often treat kids like we treat our possessions. We want the perfect number of kids, we want them to do this or be like that. Our eyes have been opened more and more to the fact that adoption is not about us, it’s about the kids. It shouldn’t be about us finding a child for our family, but being a family for a child that needs one. That being said we desire to pursue adoption even if we have more birth kids, because there are an estimated 153,000,000 orphans in the world and 20,000 kids age out of the US foster care system having never been placed with a forever family every single year. And most importantly because these kids need to know about their loving Heavenly Father, who is the only perfect Father they will ever have.

 

Linked at A Blossoming Life.
 

As I mentioned before, when we agreed to take Big Sis and Little Bro in just over a week ago, we told them we could only take them until they found someone else. Wednesday after meeting the kids and talking with us and the kids’ caseworker another family agreed to take them more permanently. They seem like a great couple and we’re so thankful that they even want to stay in contact with us!

 

So how am I feeling?

  • Honestly I’m relieved. After 8 days of being a family of 6, kids ages 2-5, 2 of the kids brand new to us, and coordinating family visits, meetings, court and doctor appointments for 2 sets of foster kids, and lack of sleep, I feel physically and emotionally drained.
  • Encouraged that the family that took the sibling group seem so kind and loving! They wanted us to tell them everything we could about the kids and want to stay connected.
  • Excited about having more time with Gracia and Little Dude again.
  • Grateful for how amazing Cameron has been at being a foster dad. I have more respect for him now more than ever.

I want to share about our experience with fostering in hopes that it will encourage more people to do it, but I don’t want to just share the positive. I want my posts about fostering to be honest and truthful, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I really want to make a quick post about how the fostering is going, but I keep typing, then deleting. I’m so full of thoughts right now I don’t really know where to start, so instead here’s some things we would really appreciate prayers for:

  • Pray for laborers!! I’ve always heard that phrase used towards foreign missions, but I believe it also applies to laborers to take care of our precious and vulnerable kids in every country, state and town that are being hurt in some way or another! There’s a huge need for loving foster families!!!
  • Pray for Little Dude – He’s been with us for over 2 months and really seems to be doing good. Pray for him and his family as they are continuing to work towards unification. Pray for us to continue to take the time to tell him about his Creator. Since getting the two new kids, I haven’t really been doing this as much, but I need to remember how important it is and take time for it.
  • Pray for Big Sis – The 4 year old girl who came to stay with us last week. Pray that she’ll accept Christ as her Savior and that she will cling to Him.
  • Pray for Little Bro – Big Sis’s 2 year old brother. Pray for this little guy to also believe in Christ and grow into a young boy who trusts in God.
  • Pray for whoever will take care of these two kids next, they are looking for someone right now. (We had told them we could only take them until they find someone else since our classes will be starting back up soon).
  • Pray for Gracia as she fills her new role as the oldest sister. Also pray for her when we have to say good-bye to these kids, I think she’s going to struggle with saying good-bye.
  • Pray for us, that God will give us the strength both physically and emotionally to take care of all 4 of our kids.

Thanks a bunch!

Guess what? 2 more foster kids joined us last night, so now there’s 4 kids in the house ages 5 and under. That means I’m taking a little blogging break. :) Not sure how long, but these 2 are supposed to only be with us for a short time. If we come to your mind please say a prayer for us and these precious little munchkins! Thanks a billion!

Heading out of Wal-Mart a couple weeks ago trying to figure out how to get these kids to obey me.”Once we get into the van, what can I say that will finally click in their little heads to realize how they need to act in a store? Do I need to use a different form of punishment? I don’t think talking louder will work..what can I do? What am I doing wrong? How long will it take for them to finally act right in the store? Are we gonna face this every week when we grocery shop?”

Then all of a sudden it hit me…something I’ve really known all along, but never really understood as well until now, it’s not so much about how you punish, or about saying just the right magic words. More than likely, there’s not going to be one particular moment that’s a sudden turning point. It’s about consistency. It’s about every single time we’re in the store the rules are the same:

  1. No running ahead.
  2. No taking things off the shelf.
  3. No arguing with each other.
  4. No throwing fits.
  5. Obey me.
  6. Oh yeah, and no matter how much fun it seems like, no playing hide-n-seek, save that for at home. :)

It’s about having the same consistent consequences every time and for me to stay true to my word and follow through with those consequences:

  1. Me reminding them how to act when they’re misbehaving (and as a reminder to me I need to say it calmly and matter of factly, not overreacting or in a harsh tone).
  2. If they don’t obey, they lose the privilege of walking by themselves and have to keep one hand on the cart (this can get pretty tricky if you have a kid on each side and you’re trying to maneuver around the busy isles of Wal-Mart, but it’s the best I can think of right now).
  3. When we get into the car we evaluate our shopping trip and there in the car, instead of in the middle of the produce aisle, we talk about how we should and shouldn’t act. So thankful for these kids being old enough that I can talk to them later about it. I know it’s hard when they’re just little toddlers and if you don’t deal with it right then, you can’t really bring it up later.

In my own life when I see an area that needs to change or improve, I don’t change right away, it usually takes time and gradual change, and many, many reminders from my faithful heavenly Father. But to know that He is for me, He forgives and He won’t give up on me (Hebrews 13:5), that encourages me.

Even if every time we go to the store I have to remind them, even if every time I end up having to tell the kids, “Hold onto the cart for the rest of our trip”, it may not mean that the very next shopping trip I see much if any progress, but if I stay consistent and steady with them, then maybe over time I’ll see some improvement.

This particular shopping trip that I had this “revelation” was a few shopping trips ago. The next trip, was rather discouraging, I didn’t feel like they acted much better, but I reminded myself to keep acting consistent and steady with them. It’s not always them being bad, but sometimes they just get hyper and excited and want to run all over the place. When it was just Gracia there was just one kid to look out for, and since she was the only kid, they didn’t have each other to get the novel idea to play hide-n-seek. :)

I’ll tell you one thing, being a foster parent has grown both Cameron and I so much in our parenting, I have so much I wanna say, maybe that’ll have to go in another post. :)

I received a few questions about fostering:

….What does it mean to your foster child when y’all move from your current county?….Regarding your foster son, how old is he, and is adoption an option?  If it is an option, is it one that you would consider?

And another reader asked about fostering too:

How is fostering going? I know you can’t tell us everything, but whatever you can tell us would be appreciated. What has the hardest part been so far? What’s the best part?

So I’m going to break these down a little bit, kinda like an interview:

What has been the hardest part?

One very stressful situation happened the day after Little Dude came to our home. It was by no fault of his own, just a health issue came up that he had never had before and we rushed him to the ER. Thankfully he is fine now, but at the moment it was very scary! We showed up at the hospital and were like, “We don’t know very much about him, we’ve only been foster parents for less than 24 hours, but here’s what happened…”

Another hard time was that less than a week after Little Dude joined us, Cameron left for a trip. He was only gone a few days, but it was very stretching for me to be a mom of 2, after being used to being a mom of one for so long, especially since the 2 kids were not getting along so well. Thankfully they’ve been doing a lot better now, and every time I have to tell them to be quieter because they’re making so much ruckus playing together, I try to remember to thank God that at least they’re having fun and getting along! The few days Cameron was gone, also really showed me how important teamwork is and gave me so much more appreciation for how amazing he’s done at being a foster dad!

To be very honest and real with yall, I have already (even though I haven’t even been at this a month yet!) doubted if I’m good enough to be a foster mom, but I have to keep coming back to 2 truths:

  1. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
  2. I’m very far from the perfect foster mom for Little Dude, but I can at least teach him about his perfect Father who loves him more than he can fathom.

What has been the best part?

I know exactly what the best part has been!! I’ve been reading through 365 Read Aloud Bedtime Bible Stories with the kids each night (okay, maybe not each night, but most nights). One night when we were learning about God making everything. We headed outside to look up at the stars in space. I pointed up and asked, “Who made that star?” to which Little Dude replied, “God!”

He may have already known that before living with us, I don’t know, but either way, it was such a reminder to me of how important it is to teach kids the truth. For some reason I never think telling kids about God counts as witnessing, but I’ve realized it not only is witnessing, but they’re some of the best people to share this truth with! They’re open to what you have to say and can get so excited over the stories in the Bible. I have no idea what Little Dude’s future holds, how long he’ll be with us, when he does leave, if we’ll ever see him again, but one thing I hope and pray, is that we get to spend eternity in Heaven with him!

Little did we know, but just a few days after this picture Little Dude came to live with us!

 

Regarding your foster son, how old is he, and is adoption an option? If it is an option, is it one that you would consider?

Since I’m so new at this fostering thing, I’m still figuring out what I’m allowed to say on the internet, and what I can’t. So for now I’ll just say that the plan is for him to get back with his family. But as far as us personally adopting, that’s actually the whole reason we got our fostering licence, and we weren’t really planning on fostering unless it looked like it was going to head toward adoption. One of the main reasons is simply because of our plans to work in foreign missions, which leads to the next question…

What does it mean to your foster child when y’all move from your current county?

We will probably be here in training for 1 more year. At this point we are willing to foster Little Dude for as long as we are here, but after our training, our plans are to spend some time raising support and then heading off to another country, so we would not be able to foster.

That being said, we are not hiding the fact that we’re here temporarily from the caseworkers. In fact the lady who called us asking if we would take care of Little Dude knows very well our situation and we had discussed it with her just a few days before the call.

Like I said, we weren’t originally planning on fostering unless adoption was in sight, but our minds were changed, since this need came up and foster parents are so greatly needed. It also fell at a good time, since we’re not in classes I can stay home with the kids while we all transition to having 4 in the house.

As a last thought I’d just like to share that there are 463,000 kids in the U.S. in foster care. Here’s some common myths about foster care adoption. And if you have any questions (regarding fostering, missions, frugality or anything else) feel free to ask me! I’m planning on doing more posts in the future about my personal experience with being a foster parent.

 
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