Foster Parenting

#ShowEm what family means

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Jockey for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

When you close your eyes and envision who your children will be when they grow up, what do you see? I love that the Jockey #ShowEm campaign celebrates the values that make up who we truly are, beneath the surface.

As parents, we’re tasked with guiding our children on their journeys to becoming men and women, and a hugely important part of that guidance is imparting values such as love, courage, perseverance, and family. So when Jockey asked me to create my own #ShowEm captioned photo, I knew that my value would be “Family Is Everything.”

Child development experts will tell you this question should be at the core of all your parenting decisions.

Who do you want your child to be when they grow up, and what do you need to do to get them there?

#ShowEm what brothers look like

I want my children to be giving and compassionate. I want them to naturally gravitate towards helping those with less – less money, less love, less family…. I can’t imagine a better way to teach them that than continuing to foster as they grow up.

People considering foster care often ask how the decision will impact their “own” children. Understandably, they’re typically concerned about any situation that may pose a threat to their biological children. Frequently, would-be foster parents also worry about any sacrifices their children may be required to make – from quality time with parents, to fewer resources for activities, to sharing a bedroom or bathroom.

SuperDad has expressed similar concerns. He worries that continuing to foster isn’t fair to our young boys or that they must sacrifice too much. I believe that raising them to think about others is of far greater value than having time for one more extracurricular activity, but I’m not sure SuperDad could fully understand before Snowflake came to stay with us earlier this year.

The day Snowflake came to stay with us, she woke up as an only child, secure in the devotion of her mom and dad. She woke up the next morning in the middle of a traveling three-ring circus.

The boys, on the other hand, had gone to bed a trio, secure in their family, belongings, and their positions firmly in the center of the known universe. They woke up to a new little sister who was tired, scared, and clinging to their parents.

Before everyone woke up, SuperDad and I strategized how to explain Snowflake’s presence to the boys and ease the transition for them, while making sure that she felt safe and loved and secure. We needn’t have bothered with the frantic strategy session.

Squish, always the most eager to take on the day, walked into the living room, took one look at Snowflake and one look at me, and without some much as a by-your-leave, wrapped Snowflake in a gentle bear hug and asked, “Are you going to stay with us for a while? Would you like to sit in my chair and hold my school bus?”

When Squirm wandered in a few minutes later, rubbing his eyes, Squish led Snowflake over to him and introduced his brother. Squirm was the first to ask her name, followed immediately by, “Do you want cereal and milk? Mommy, will you get Snowflake some cereal and milk?”

#ShowEm what family looks likeNow, SuperDad and I knew we had some pretty awesome kids, but Squish and Squirm were not quite 4-years old at the time. And they responded to our surprise addition more gracefully than most adults would have. But what about Lil Bit? He was just over 2, and really, truly, seriously spoiled. He’s also the LEAST friendly in the morning, so we were a little more worried about his reaction.

When he walked into the living room to see his brothers calming eating breakfast next to a little girl with a tear-stained face he stopped and stared for a minute – at her, at his brothers, at SuperDad and I.

And then, just as if it was a normal everyday occurrence, he walked right up to Snowflake, sat down next to her and shared his favorite blanket before asking if he could have “some milk please?”

That was the day SuperDad and I realized we’re no longer foster parents. Now we’re a foster FAMILY.

Whatever you see when you imagine a family, it probably doesn’t look like mine. I’ll be honest, my family doesn’t look like what I pictured when I was younger – it’s extraordinarily more beautiful than anything I ever dreamed.

 

 

Jockey understands the importance of confidently and unapologetically expressing who you really are inside. I encourage you to visit the ShowEm Meme Generator and create your own meme to #ShowEm what family means to you. Then share your own stories of family in the comments—I would love to see them!

Visit Sponsors Site

5 Things Foster Parents Wish You Knew

5 Things Foster Parents Wish You Knew

 

  1. I’m not a saint! I don’t do this because I have a heart of gold or more patience than the average person (trust me on this one!!). I’m human and I make mistakes – and I don’t have ANY special qualities that make me “good enough” or “strong enough” to foster.
  2. Reunification is the goal of foster care. Most of us got into fostering because we believe in helping families stay together. We almost always support reunification. And if we don’t, we really can’t talk about it
  3. We don’t do this for the money! Yes, we get a small stipend for the children in our care. Emphasis on small. It varies by area and agency, but I can almost guarantee, it’s less than your child support. A lot less. If you do it right, foster parenting is like owning a boat – instead of a hole in the water you throw money into, fostering is a hole in the minivan you throw money into. (I wish I was exaggerating)
  4. We don’t know how long we’ll keep them. Really, we don’t. We’re not trying to be coy – it’s not up to us. There are 5,000 variables, and almost as many opinions – the least important of which is ours.
  5. You don’t have to be a foster parent to make a difference. Not everyone can foster. Not everyone SHOULD foster. There are numerous other ways to help out foster kids and/or foster parents.
    • Become a Guardian ad Litem or CASA – these court-appointed volunteers are the voices of our kids – the good ones are worth their weight in gold & there are never enough of them.
    • Offer free babysitting – this may involve getting finger-printed and background-checked. Find out what it takes and do it.
    • Be a safe place to land – and be consistent about it – even when it’s inconvenient. Offer an advice- & opinion-free zone. Give us a place to vent/cry/scream/get drunk without piling negativity on top of what we’re already feeling.

BONUS: We do get attached! If ever your heart doesn’t break when a child leaves your home, you’re doing it wrong! The length and depth of the grief is different for every single placement, but it hurts when they leave – even when you also feel a little relieved. At the end of the day (everyday), we continue to volunteer for this heartbreak (and the frustrations) because it’s not about us!! No child chooses to be a foster child, but EVERY child deserves to know unconditional love and unquestioned safety.

I’m willing to grieve if it means another child has known unrestrained love. For however long they’re mine, they get All of Me.

#AdoptionTalk Link Up

This week’s topic: Anything Goes

Please join ErinJenni, Jill, and me! New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how

An InLinkz Link-up


#AdoptionTalk: Four under 4 is nuts!

How far should you go to keep siblings together?After Lil Bit, we're done adopting. The addition of Squeaker has proven, unequivocally, that four under 4 is nuts - anything beyond that is terrifying....

Four under 4 is nuts!

 

When Lil Bit was sheltered, and placed with a relative who had no intention of adopting him, I fought (and fought) to have him placed with us.

Not because I wanted another boy (remember I said no more boys three boys ago), and not because I was in a hurry to adopt a third child – but because siblings are important.

Squirm has 6 older siblings (that we know of). I know where three of them are and will be able to give him some direction when he’s older and ready to find them. I would love to start play-dates with them now, but they don’t know he exists. And their adoptive parents apparently plan to keep it that way. I have no idea where to even start looking for his three oldest siblings.

So when it looked like he was going to lose another sibling – because this relative wanted to give her friend a child – I got mad. And I got vocal. Eventually, when Lil Bit was about 3 weeks old, the relative officially stated that she had no intention of adopting him, and the paperwork was finally started to move him to our home. He was four weeks old when he came home – exactly one week before his first Christmas.

People frequently ask if Lil Bit and Squirm know they are biological half-brothers. I honestly don’t know. They definitely know they are brothers and that Squish doesn’t look like them, but I have no idea if they realize they’re related to each other in a way they’re not related to Squish. We’ve discussed the fact that Lil Bit and Squirm have the same first mom, and Squish has a different first mom, but I have no way of knowing how much they understand.

Obviously, they’ll know someday. And I worry sometimes that Squish will feel left out because he doesn’t have a biological sibling in our family – or because he’s the only blond.

SuperDad and I have recently agreed that we are done adopting. We want to foster for a long time and if we adopt any more kids, we just aren’t going to be able to continue. The addition of Squeaker has proven to us, unequivocally, that four kids under age 4 (all in diapers) is nuts… And it doesn’t help that she doesn’t appear to be anywhere remotely near sleeping through the night….

So one question we will probably have to address at some point – if Squish and Lil Bit end up with another biological sibling, are we willing to take that baby, if necessary? At least right now, the answer is “probably not”. Even a few months ago I wouldn’t have even considered turning away a biological sibling, but…. four under 4 is nuts!

It’s crazy to me to think of saying no, and I feel a little guilty even contemplating it. But SuperDad and I have realized that the last thing we want is to get to a point where Squish has a new sibling that needs a home – and we have to say no. And the worst case would be continuing to say yes until we’ve gotten ourselves more children than we can handle.

Four under 4 is nuts and, quite frankly, anything beyond that is terrifying.

 #AdoptionTalk Link Up

Adoption Talk Linkup Hosts

This week’s topic: Anything Goes!
(optional topic: Transracial Adoption)

Grab a button for your post and join ErinJenni, Jill, Madeleine, and me!
New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how.

Starfish Confidential #AdoptionTalk

And that’s it! We’re so excited that you are joining us!


2015 Duffels for Kids Walk ~ Port Orange, FL

May is National Foster Care Month. Get to know the many faces of foster care. #FosterCareMonth

The 2015 Duffels for Kids Walk, to benefit Florida’s foster children,
will be held in Port Orange, FL on Saturday, May 16th @ 9am.

Every day, a child in care transitions into another home without proper luggage. Help the Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association break the cycle! Support the 2015 Duffels for Kids Walk on Saturday, May 16th at the Kenneth Parker Amphitheater (2001 City Center Circle) in Port Orange, FL.

Every day, a child in care transitions into another home without proper luggage. Help the Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association break the cycle! Support the 2015 Duffels for Kids Walk on Saturday, May 16th at the Kenneth Parker Amphitheater (2001 City Center Circle) in Port Orange, FL.

Through the Duffels for Kids program, every child in Florida foster care can receive a free duffel bag to call his or her own, even as they transition back to their biological parents or to another permanent family.Duffels for Kids distribution is coordinated by FSFAPA’s board, with the help and support of local foster parent associations, community-based care organizations and guardian ad litems. Caregivers are able to request a duffle bag for their youth in care through FSFAPA’s online request form or through FSFAPA’s regional vice presidents.

The 2015 Duffels for Kids Walk includes a FREE concert by the NEX GEN band, FSFAPA’s next generational band comprising foster, adoptive and biological children of FSFAPA members.

Registration is open now! Registration fees for the walk are $10 for foster parents, $5 for children, and $25 for non-foster-parent adults. Teams (of up to 5 people) can register for $100 and vendor registration is $50.

If you’re not in Central Florida, you can register to be a Virtual Walker for $25 and support the cause from wherever you are!

If you would like to sponsor the event, the event sponsor package is available here.

Every day, a child in care transitions into another home without proper luggage. Help the Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association break the cycle! Support the 2015 Duffels for Kids Walk on Saturday, May 16th at the Kenneth Parker Amphitheater (2001 City Center Circle) in Port Orange, FL.