Tag Archives: children

Fighting For Another Child

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is March 2008.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
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It was hard to pick myself up by my boot-straps and carry on, but it was what I had to do.

It was not long before we received a call on another baby. We once again knew from the beginning that he was just a foster child. He would not be available for adoption, and it was very likely that he would go back to his parents very quickly.

You may be wondering why we agreed to take each child that we have taken, when so far the majority of these children were not even available for adoption.  Yes, we went into this program fully knowing that our goal was to adopt, not just foster. But when we started this process, my husband and I agreed that there was no possible way we could turn down a child. If we received a call from our agency, we would accept that child. These children have already faced so much rejection in their lives. Though most of them that we have fostered and lost are probably too young to really remember what was going on in their lives at the time, we believe that if we received a call to take in a child, God had a plan for us in the life of that child. We may not ever realize what the purpose of each situation was, but God is in control.

So the next baby was placed in our home.  He was 15-months-old. From the very beginning there seemed to be something wrong. This child just did not fit in our family. I really struggled with this, because I do not believe you should ever reject a child. Each child- each person- is uniquely created by God for a specific purpose. So for me to say he did not fit felt like I was rejecting him. And the strange part about this was this child was the first Caucasian child we had ever had placed in our home. With the exception of the first two little boys who are black, the rest of our children have been Hispanic.

I now question whether this child should have ever been removed from his home. It is an internal struggle for me. While I definitely believe everything happens for a reason, there is only one remote reason that I can see why he may have been removed. I think the only reason he was taken was that God allowed it because He knew that I would push in the system that this baby be checked out for medical issues. The parents were refusing to do this, and there was something definitely wrong with him. He would not play at all. I would get down on the floor with him with toys, and he would just look at me. He wanted to just lay in his play pen and sleep. We only had him for 3 weeks. By the last few days he was playing a little bit with our little girl. He still would have nothing to do with our other little boy. But then he was taken back home, and part of the requirement was that they get him medically tested to see what was going on with him. So, he went back where he belonged. I had fought for him. I truly believe that was the only reason he was removed from his home.

I believe it is my job to fight for every single child that was placed with us- I believe this is EVERY foster parents job- to fight this fight for each child that is placed with them. But so many- most- do not do this.  They simply do the barest minimum that is required, if that.

With every child that came into our home I documented, I made calls, I emailed and I fought the system for these children.  They have no way of fighting, except through me. This calling is not just about becoming a parent, though yes, I am so grateful that I have been given this opportunity and privilege. It truly is a gift beyond measure. However, I was called to fight for each one of these children. They need an army on their side, but since the system that should be the army standing up for them, is not fighting the battle so often, I will be the warrior that fights their battle.

Even now, with our journey in the actual system being over, I fight for them. I WILL be the voice for these voiceless children! Somebody has to!

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Too Good To Be True

The previous chapter in this series: Do Not Be Afraid

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Do Not Be Afraid

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is November 2007-March 2008.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
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When we first heard about the Foster-To-Adopt Program, it had been our intention to adopt a baby. One baby. I wanted to have the full experience of raising a child from infancy. Since I would not have the experience the actual pregnancy, I wanted to at least experience the infancy process.

We realized very quickly that baby’s are hard to get in the system. There are so many older children who need homes, but there is very often a wait for infants. Not only is there a wait, it is also not guaranteed that you will be able to keep this baby- or any child you are placed with who’s status is still classified as Foster rather than Foster-to-Adopt. The difference in the status is whether or not the parent’s rights have been terminated. 

We decided that we would broaden the age range for children we would accept. This is how we came to have the two sets of children we had already been placed with rather than infants.

But I still wanted to have a baby. It was still something my husband wanted as well, but I do not think it was as important to him as it was to me.

We had almost increased our license to four children when we found out the first two boys were back in the system, but I was so unsure of being able to handle four children at one time. But the longing was still there. Though I had children, I still long to have a baby! I did not know at this point whether or not I could handle more than the two children we already had.

One evening I told my husband I needed to spend some time with God. I went into our room and shut the door. I spent a while in prayer, wrestling with God over whether or not I could handle three children, one of which would be an infant. As I lay silently before God, just meditating, I heard a very distinct voice. I sat up very quickly, expecting someone to be there. Who I thought it would be, I do not know. I knew that it had not been my husband’s voice, and there were no other adults in the house. It then occurred to me that I had not heard the voice with my ears but with my heart.

God had spoken to me again. But there was no way that what I had heard could be possible!

I sat for a few moments, just taking in what I knew I had heard. After a few moments, I left our room. When I walked back into the kitchen, my husband asked me if I felt better. I chuckled and he asked what that meant. My exact words were, “God is crazy!” He looked at me as if I had literally lost my mind. I’m sure he was wondering what in the world had caused me to say that!

I told him that God had told me not to be afraid to go ahead with three children, I would be just fine. In fact, He told me to be prepared because we would have a total of five children. When I told my husband this, I laughed. But even then, I knew that God has spoken. And I knew that I would not disobey. I had made that mistake too many times in my life before. I just did not know how in the world I was going to be able to handle five children!


After discussing all of this with my husband, we decided we would increase our license to three children, and hold the spot for an infant. We were not ready to step out in faith at this point and just accept that God had spoken. I believe we were both in shock. My husband knows I do not tell him that God has told me something very often. In fact, I have been frustrated many times in the past because I did not hear God’s voice when I would pray so desperately for answers in various different situations. We just were not quite ready to accept that this would be our reality. And there was the possibility that I was just imagining things. To say that you know God has spoken to you is nothing small!

The next day I made the call.  Our license would be increased so that we would be able to have three children in our home.

It was not long before I received a call. There was a baby available. However, they told me right up front it was a definite we would not be able to adopt this baby. She would not be coming to us from the State Foster Care system; she would instead be coming to us through a private adoption agency. There were legal issues that had to be cleared up before she could be given to the adoptive parents. We agreed to take her.

Although we knew from the very beginning that she would not be ours, we loved her as if she were our own as we did all of our kids. We were told before we ever picked her up that we would have her anywhere from one day to one month at the very longest. I went to the hospital and picked her up from the hospital nursery when she was just 3 days old. That was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. To be in the hospital nursery, the nurses giving me instructions on care, feeding her, rocking her… I cannot even tell you the emotions that were going on inside of me!

Over the next month, I got to know the adoptive mom. We talked on the phone every single day, if not several times a day. We built a relationship over that month that still exists today. We are getting to see her grow up, experience her birthday parties and other special events of her life. I am truly honored to have been there the first month of her life. I would not have it any other way, because this little girl is exactly where she is supposed to be! Her life is one of those strange stories you hear where the adopted child looks exactly like one of her adoptive parents. She is literally the spitting image of her Daddy! We know without a doubt he is not her biological father, but it’s one of those strange little quirks that happen in life.

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to be a part of bringing our friends their child and caring for her the first month of her life. This child is the reason we are all friends today. But, even knowing from the very beginning that we would not have her long, and knowing that she was going to a wonderful, loving family that wanted a child so desperately- just as we did- it still killed my soul to let her go. I had bonded with her. So, I was very happy for the family, but my heart was breaking. There is just no preparing your heart for such a mixture of emotions. I kept my emotions together to be a part of this very special moment in our friends’ lives- laying their new baby in their arms-spending a few minutes with them, and walking back outside to leave the adoption agency office. I made it around the corner- because I knew they could see me through the window. I had the other two kids with us, and of course my husband was with me. As soon as I made it around the corner so I could not be seen, I collapsed and just fell to pieces crying. I did not want to take away from their special day in any way. My husband had to help me to the car. I realize now a lot of my issue was that I was scared- yes, of being a good mother, but also of my heart breaking.

That day, my heart broke. I was so very happy for my new friends. But my heart was breaking, because I still wanted a baby.

A couple of weeks later, we got a call for our next child. He was 9-months-old. I was told that he was foster, not foster-to-adopt, but it was very likely that his biological parents’ rights would be terminated and he would be available for adoption. Of course said yes, and once again, we fell in love. This baby stole my heart from the get go. No, that’s not true. The first day all he did was cry. That was why he was removed from the previous foster home, because they could not deal with his crying.

Between my husband and I, we finally got him calmed down. But it took a couple of days. After that he was the most loving, most beautiful child. And he was a great fit with the other two kids. We began hoping. This was our mistake. The court case was not going that well for the parents, and we were told it was very unlikely they would get him back. In fact, there was a CASA advocate assigned to the case- a non-partial child advocate that talks with all parties involved in the child’s life. She told me that she saw absolutely no way how the biological parents would not lose their rights. There were drugs found in the same room as the child when he was removed from the home, and there was absolutely no remorse from the biological parents. Add that to the fact that they were not attending their classes. After talking with the biological parents it was the recommendateion from the CASA advocate that he not be placed back with the parents.

We were told that there was one other possibility, but it was highly unlikely that this would happen. There was another family member- an aunt- who had said she would take him, so they were pursuing the possibility. However, the CASA advocate told me that there was a person in the home that had a drug conviction, so she would not recommend at all that he be placed in that home.

But, once again, I got a call one day. And just like that, they took him with just a 2 hour notice. Once again, we had no idea there was even a court date scheduled! This time, my husband did not even get to say goodbye. Our other little boy was with me when I had to drop the baby off for visitation. We realize now that this traumatized him more than we could have ever known. I go to drop the baby off, but never go pick him up. we explained to the other two children why I had not gone back to pick him up, but how do you truly explain something like this to a 3 and 4-year-old? There are no words that make sense in a situation like this to an adult, much less a child!

They took him on his first birthday. I cried. I cannot tell you how much I cried. Literally, I cried for 3 solid days. It finally got to the point that I told God, “You have to take this pain and help me to stop crying. I have 2 other children to take care of, and I am not doing a good job of that right now, much less being a good wife.” I finally stopped the continual crying, but the sadness would last much longer.

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Fighting For Another Child

The previous chapter in this series: Jumping Head First Into The Fight For My Children

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Excuse Me For Harshing Your Mellow

I am once again taking a detour from our personal story to shake my head in sadness and disgust.

We really have reached a very sad point in our country.

In trying to get as many voices as possible to join me in speaking out for these voiceless children I have been posting the link to this series in several different places. One place I posted it was on a Christian site. It was fine… for a while, and then all of a sudden they stopped approving my posts. My thoughts were, “Fine… so be it. I will continue elsewhere.”

Today I went to update another site that I post to- a site DEDICATED to Foster and Adoption. It seems as though I “broke a rule” because I discussed politics in my posts and the link I posted is a “Conservative” site. We don’t want to “alienate” anyone because of political views.

It’s interesting to me though that I had one person respond to one of my posts from last week saying I had “lost her” because of my outspokenness of the liberal mentality that the government should be involved more. Her response to me was very respectful! She was honest with me, but was in no way demeaning. I appreciated her post, and even told her so. As I said to her, we do still live in a free country (well, at least for now!) and are all entitled to our own opinions. I also told her that I thought she would be surprised to know how much we do agree on if we could just get politics out of the way completely. She never responded to my post, which was no problem with me at all. Hey, it’s a free country, she’s entitled to her own thoughts as well. My response back to her was also very respectful.

So it was a complete surprise to me today when I went to update the discussion and post the articles I’ve posted since last visiting the site that I see my links have been removed. There was a post from one of the administrators telling me she “appreciates” my fight for foster care and “wanting to get involved” they do not allow political sites to be a “vehicle” to get cases heard.

Hmmmm…. This is not a case. The case has been resolved- finally! Thankfully! This is a story. A real life story that real people lived through. The experience has taught all of a lot! Our story is also a story of triumph in so much brokenness.

I was told that I could simply post the article in one specific forum, but I could not link back to the site. She agreed with me that my fight isn’t about politics but about getting ALL people involved to change this broken system, and we wouldn’t want to “alienate thousands of people” who are not Conservative. She wished me all the luck in my journey, stating that she could tell it is a topic I feel very strongly about.

Needless to say I was once again appalled. In my response I asked her to please understand if I sounded a bit jaded, but that I would not be posting my article any longer, given the stipulation I was given.
I explained to her that I was very thankful to have been given a forum in which to write this series to bring attention to this broken system, and to not link back to the site takes away capital that allows the site to extend this offer to me at no charge to me. I explained to her that nothing is free- everything costs money.

I also explained to her that it is true- it’s not about “politics” in that these children are much more than that. However, it does have to do with politics due to the bureaucracy that’s been put in place on BOTH sides of the aisle.

I closed by telling her that until people realize these things we will never get anything changed. Hey, she has that right as well! It is her site. It is just a very sad and disgusting mirror of what our society has become.

So I fight on. Many thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions may refuse to listen to me because I believe that each person is responsible for themselves and their own actions. I do not believe the government should try to make my life any “easier”. I believe in the old addage, “that which does not kill me makes me stronger.”

I do not believe the government should have a say-so in the lives of these children. I want LAWS CHANGED to protect these children and their rights over the “rights” of their biological parents! I want judges to be held accountable for making horrible decisions in the lives of these children. They already have their biological parents making poor decisions, why would we want to add yet another person to make bad decisions for them? I want people to wake up and smell the coffee! We do not live in a fairy-tale land where every day is filled with rainbows and lollipops! The only way we are going to be successful in making these changes is to address the politics that have become so intertwined in the lives of foster children.

Excuse me for harshing the peace loving mellow of those who refuse to address the issue of politics. This is reality. And reality is harsh!

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Jumping Head First In The Fight For My Children

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is October -November 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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Our October court hearing was supposed to be a pre-trial hearing for the Termination of Rights. At this hearing, the biological mom’s attorney asked for visitation rights to be re-instated. They had not had visits with their biological mom since they were removed from her- the second time- the previous April. So here we are in October, and her attorney is asking for visitation rights right before her rights are to be terminated. I assumed it was a formality. How very wrong I was! It never occurred to me that the judge would actually grant visitation to her again, but he did.

I was devastated! I did not understand what this meant! If she was being granted visitation rights, did this mean the judge was not going to terminate her rights? No one could answer that question for me. Our CPS Case Worker was just as stunned as I was. The State attorney, our children’s attorney, everyone involved was at a complete loss as to why the judge had re-instated her visitation rights.

These two children are child #5 and child #6 of their biological mother’s. At this point she had already had the previous four children removed from her. Her rights had already been terminated on all four of these children and they have been adopted. These two children- my children- have never even met their four older siblings.

My children were taken from their biological mom when they were just 2-years-old and 1-year-old. They were removed from her for physical neglect and abuse. My little boy (the 1-year-old) had cigarette burns on one eye-lid, and on the corner of his other eye. The day they were removed, it was winter. The month of December, though not exactly the coldest here in South Texas, still requires long sleeves- especially for a child! When the CPS Case Worker arrived at the home, the front storm door was open. The screen door was closed, and a chair was propped up against it to prevent the children from getting out. There was also a chair propped up at the back door to prevent the children from getting out the back door.

Both of the children were dressed only in diapers. No clothing at all. They were on the floor, eating from the trash can and the floor around the trash can.

Biological mom had been given temporary, semi-supervised custody of the children the spring before they came to us. She was living in a facility where she had her own apartment but there were “supervisors” on site. By this time, they were 3-years-old and 4-years-old. In less than a month they were removed from her care once again, and placed back into Foster Care, because she left them unattended in the bathtub while she went outside to talk with the other residents in the facility. My little girl was trying to shave her brother’s legs, and she sliced his leg open.

With her previous history, the judge granting their biological mom visitation again did not make any sense at all.

 I knew from the very beginning that this was a bad idea. However, I had no voice in the matter. I had no choices. The judge had spoken and I had to comply with his orders. So we went to our first visit at the CPS Office.

 I had never actually been to the CPS Office building. It shocked me to my very core when my little girl spoke up from the backseat, “Right there, mommy, that’s where we need to go.” I had not told them what was going to happen. I wanted to keep the anxiety down for them as long as possible. But at 4-years-old she could tell me where she was supposed to go. She knew it well. How a child so young can remember something like the location of the local CPS office is beyond me.

The after effects of the first visit were excruciating. The children had not seen her for 7 months, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, there is a visit. When it was time to leave, my little girl cried. She did not want to leave. My little boy did not care, until he realized that his sister did not want to go. All I can guess is that he realized he was “supposed” to not want to go either. This is when he started crying.

That night, they both had accidents in their beds. We had not had a single problem with accidents during the night our entire month that they had been with us. But the very first night they had a visit, they both wet the bed.

This continued for a week and a half. We finally got back on track, only to have another visit the next week.

This visit was even worse. Their biological mom had arranged to have her mom be able to come to the visit as well. I was very confused to hear her talk. While CPS was telling me that they were still set to terminate rights, their grandmother was talking about her daughter getting the kids back. My heart was being ripped apart right in the middle of the CPS office, and all I could do was plaster a smile on my face and nod politely. I tried to be light hearted and encouraging to the grandmother, but it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to sit through. 

Once again, that night, both children had accidents. The accidents continued for a week and a half or so and then stopped.

And then we had our third visit. The visit went the same. Their grandmother was there again, so I had to put on the cordial smile and be encouraging once again. She was telling me that she was planning to buy the kids a little plastic swimming pool to put in the back yard for when they returned home. The grandmother told me that she had told her daughter she had to stop losing her grandkids. Remember- my children are her fifth and sixth child to be taken from her.

I guess it would not have been very wise to tell the grandmother that I hoped the children never were returned to her daughter.

Again, it is not at all that I have something personal against this lady. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I respect her as the mother of my children. If it were not for her, I would not have these two beautiful children to love. But when is anyone in this entire process going to stop and actually think about what is best for these innocent children?

The aftermath of the third visit was worse than the other two combined. While we had the bed-wetting again, my daughter became aggressively violent. We had been informed that she had violent outburst when we were told about them, but we had not witnessed it at all to date. She was definitely rambunctious and did not know her boundaries, but she was not aggressive or violent.

After the third visitation with her biological mother, we not only saw it, we experienced it!

My husband’s oldest sister and her family were in town visiting for the Thanksgiving holidays. All of the children were playing together, and our daughter suddenly grabbed the glasses off of one of the other children. With one swift move she snapped his glasses in half.

When I talk with my children, I try to always physically get down on their level by bending down and looking at them in their eyes. I feel that this prevents the feeling of fear that is caused by someone towering over them. So when I bent down to get on her level to talk to her about what she had done, she pushed me. When she pushed me, she pushed so hard that I literally fell back on the floor. There was such hardness and anger in her beautiful brown eyes! I completely understand why. She had no way of understanding what was going on in her little life.

I knew immediately that this had to stop. These visits were not healthy at all for my children!

I am a documenter. My dad has taught me from a very early age to document everything. You never know when you are going to need the dates or facts to refer back to. So all along I had been communicating with all parties involved in our case.

After this event, where she broke the glasses and pushed me, I got angry! I documented the events and emailed it to all of the attorneys, case workers, and therapists involved. I was about to come unglued by this point.

After this incident, the judge finally stopped the visitation.

We soon found out that the biological mom was not doing all of her counseling and other classes.

But even with this knowledge, the court did not terminate her rights. They set the court date off for 3 more months.

And so the waiting continued.

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Do Not Be Afraid

The previous chapter in this series: Our True Battle Begins

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Mother’s Day- Mourning Turned To Joy

On today- Mother’s Day- I dedicate this to all ladies who long to be a mommy but their dreams have not yet been fulfilled. I know the pain of Mother’s Day when your heart desperately longs to hold your child in your arms but you have not been given that opportunity. I pray that you will continue to read this article to the end. My sincere prayer is that somehow, some way, my journey will give you hope. I have learned that everything- and I mean everything- happens for a reason!

Over the years of us trying to have a family I have written different things, and been a part of a couple of groups for foster and adoptive parents. I had to write a short biography in these groups. This is a revised copy of our biography. If you would like to know more about our journey, I invite you to read from the beginning.

A day of celebration. Or so it was for most. But for me, my heart ached so desperately that the celebrations were like a hot white knife of pain twisting in my heart. Mother’s Day. Why would this beautiful day of celebration be so painful for me, you ask?

It is not because I have a poor relationship with my mom.  In fact, my mom has been my biggest champion all of my life. Oh yes, she has made her mistakes along the way as a mommy, but she is a wonderful mother and friend, now that I’m an adult.

The cause of the deep pain in my heart on what should be such a happy day is because there was a huge hole in my heart crying out to be filled. That fateful day was May 14, 2006.

At this point in my life, I had been married to my husband for 3 ½ years. By this time we had been trying to conceive a child for 3 years. First, we had to endure surgery for my endometriosis. Then I had to be put into chemical menopause, due to the endometriosis. Then we began the real road to trying to conceive, where doctors were involved in the process. The medications and procedures I have been through have cost us not only monetarily, but physically, mentally and most especially emotionally.

So as I sat in church on that fateful May 14 in 2006, I tried to hold back the tears that were threatening to pour in buckets. We had just had another failed round of medication and procedures. The pain was intensified through my hormonal roller-coaster ride, another year of failed dreams, and more and more unanswered questions. Why, God? Why will You not bless us with a child? As soon as the service was over, I ran out as fast as I could find the door. I had to get out. I had to scream. I had to cry. I just could not be around the joyous occasion of Mother’s Day any longer.

It would be almost a year before we would come to realize that God’s plan was to bless us more abundantly than we could have ever imagined! But just as Isaiah 55:8 says, my ways are not His ways; my thoughts are not His thoughts.

We had talked about adoption, but it seemed like such a far-reaching dream, because we are not financially wealthy. To pay $20,000, give or take a few thousand dollars was not an attainable goal for us.

So when some of our best friends told us about the foster-to-adopt program, we were intrigued. Or, if I am being honest with you, I should say my husband was very intrigued. I still had my hopes set on conceiving our own child.

We decided that I would have one more procedure before we started the process. When it ended in no pregnancy, I called to make an appointment for the informational meeting. Within a month we had started the process to become foster-to-adopt parents.

Less than five months later, we had children in our home! Talk about whirlwind! Most mom’s have 9 months at least to get ready to be a parent!

I will not tell you it has been a bed of roses, with rainbows opening each day and a winking moon closing out each day.

 After almost two years of being in the foster care system, we were able to finalize the adoption of all five of our children.

 Hearing the giggles and laughter of my children each morning lights up my life.

 I never thought I would hear a child call Mommy. Yet now I have five children calling out various forms of mommy at any given moment of the day.  Every now and then I still get a shiver down my spine as I hear that name- me! Mommy! You bet I am! I am a mommy! And I am blessed beyond my wildest imagination!

Though our children are adopted, this is not over for us. We do not know where God is going to lead us, but we know that there are many other children are stuck in the broken system of foster care.

Today I am very grateful to my Editor here at ConservativeDailyNews.com for providing me the space and opportunity to tell our story. No, I can’t save the world, but I can certainly change the world of countless little lives that have no voice. No matter how long it takes I will continue to fight to make changes and fix this Broken System!

I pray that God will use us and our experience to help many other children find a loving home. There are many empty arms this Mother’s Day. There are many children who need loving arms to hold them.

I believe our struggles are not without reason. God has called us for a purpose. We have been allowed to experience this system first hand. We know the hurts. We know the frustrations. We know where things need to change. So we are here, surrendered to do whatever He would have us do.

My mourning that Mother’s Day in 2006 has turned to boundless joy!

Thank You, Jesus! I am now a mommy!

My heartfelt prayers go out to each and every hurting heart just longing to be a mommy this Mother’s Day.

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Elected Leaders YOU Are Being Held Accountable

I am sending this Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors concerning The Broken System of Foster Care.

We MUST be the voice for these voiceless children!

I welcome comments in response to this article. You may also contact me by email: [email protected]

We must work together- Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike- for the sake of these children! They are our future!

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Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Our True Battle Begins

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is September 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

____________________

It was not even a full month after we first received these two beautiful little boys that I received a call from the CPS Case Worker saying that she had just left the court proceedings and they would be at our house in an hour and a half to pick up the boys! What?!. I had never even been told that there was a court hearing scheduled that day. It was not until later that I found out that our Agency Case Worker was not even aware of a court date that was scheduled.

This is one of the MAIN reasons why Foster Care is a Broken System! In this day and age with the technology we have there is no reason in the world why communication cannot be streamlined so EVERYONE involved in the life and care of that child is aware of what is going on with their case!

At the court hearing, the judge ordered that the boys were to be taken out of foster care and placed with their grandmother. We had not been aware that this was even a possibility. From the time I received the call to the time that they came to pick the boys up was 1 hour. This is all the time I had to get them packed up and tell them that they would be leaving. I also called my husband frantically, telling him they were going to be leaving. Thankfully, he was already on his way home from work, so he would be able to tell them good-bye.

When the CPS Case Workers arrived to take them, I showed her the storage bins I had for them to take with them. One of the first things we were told in our classes is that anything that is bought for the children while they are with us goes with them when they leave our home. Most of these children have nothing that belongs to them. While I would have automatically done this, knowing that it was one of the main things that had been stressed to us in our classes made it even more important to me.

I am sure you can imagine my bewilderment when the Child Protective Services (CPS) Case Worker asked me if I was sure I wanted to send all of these things with them. I assured her that yes, I had already bought the storage buckets for them so I would be prepared whenever the time came for them to leave. Thankfully I had this taken care of the first few days so I did not send them off with a garbage bag of belongings.

I  reminded the CPS Case Worker that the oldest boy had celebrated his birthday with us, and that many of the things were his presents that he had received at his party. She told me once again that it was not necessary to send everything with them; I could keep some stuff for the next children we would receive. Once again I insisted that these things go with the boys.

By the time the boys were loaded in the car and buckled in their seat belts, this CPS Case Worker had asked me a total of 4 times if I was sure that I did not want to keep some of the things I was sending. By the last time, it was all I could do to keep my composure.

While we knew from the very beginning that these boys were not up for adoption, it was not easy at all to see them disappear down the road. These two little boys- our first sons- will always hold a very special place in my heart. Every time I see a bottle of Ranch Dressing I smile and think of the oldest one. My, how that little one loved his Ranch Dressing! I can still hear his little voice now- “Miz ‘Llenah, I want my ranch dressin’, please!”

That little boy stole my heart from the very first moment. I struggled more with the youngest one, because he cried for hours. He craved attention. While I would spend time throughout the day holding each of them, rocking them, playing with them, it was never enough for the youngest one. He would scream throughout the night. I was so mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted by the time they left, but I missed them before they were out of sight.

The next day, I called our agency case worker and told her we were ready for more children when they were available. She was bewildered, wondering what was going on with the boys. She was not even aware that they were being taken to the grandmother!

Our home was open once again.

It was at this time that she told me about another set of siblings- a little girl, 4-years-old and her brother who was 3-years-old. They had been placed in 9 different places, if I remember correctly. They were about to be moved again. She told me they should be ready to be adopted in December (this is now end of September 2007).

I did not hesitate! I told her absolutely we would take them! To know by December we could be finished with the Foster Care system and start just living life was a dream!

So we made arrangements to meet them. We decided it would be best not to just place them immediately, since they had been moved so many times. When we met them, we fell in love immediately. And they immediately began calling us mom and dad. That was a bit strange to me. In fact, they thought they were going home with us that day. They were so used to being moved around to different homes and different places they just naturally expected that they were on to their next stopping off place.

They came to spend one night with us the next week, and we made arrangements for October 1 for them to be placed with us. They didn’t want to leave to go back to the other home. So, October 1 came and they were brought to their new home.  Thankfully, this would be their last home. They would never be moved again! But, I am getting way ahead of myself here.

The day after the first two little boys were taken to their grandmother is when we agreed to take the next set of children. While we would not get them immediately, we were committed to taking them.

The next week, while discussing the brother and sister that we would be receiving with our Agency Case Worker, I found out that the first two little boys were back in the system. We did not know it at the time, but when they were removed from our home and taken to the grandmother, they were not taken to her home- they were taken to her place of employment! The grandmother had them only 4 days and discovered she could not handle them. She took them back to the shelter. This is now the second time the baby has been abandoned. His biological mother had left him literally on a street corner and drove off. Thankfully, it was on the street where the biological father lived, but that really does not make it any better. My prayer is that this baby is too young to remember what he has gone through.

I did not know what to do! Our little boys needed a home! But we had committed to the other two children! We were only licensed for two children. My heart was so very torn!

We discussed increasing our license to four children. I just did not know if I would be able to handle them all. I prayed and prayed, searching for an answer, but I did not receive one. All I could do at this point was trust that God would take care of these two little boys.

We had been told horrible things about the two children we were about to receive. They were destructive, no one could control them, there were major behavioral issues, and they were mean to animals. While some of the things we were told were true, not all of these things were. True facts or not, it does not hurt my heart any less to realize now that  ALL these two children wanted and needed was to be loved, to feel secure, and be given loving discipline.

From the very beginning we realized that these two children were not going to be nearly as easy as our first experience was.

Our Agency Case Worker had told us that their biological mother’s rights should be terminated by December- just two months away. Their biological father’s rights had already been terminated, and the final court date was scheduled in December.

There was a pre-trial date set for the end of October, to prepare for the Termination of Rights hearing in December. Never could I have ever imagined that our battle for these two children had only just begun.

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter of this series: Jumping Head First In The Fight For My Children

The previous chapter of this series: Love Plain and Simple

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Love Plain and Simple

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is September 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

____________________

I had been told when I received the first call about these two little boys that they were foster children, not foster-to-adopt. The difference is with a foster-to-adopt child, the legal rights of the parents have already been terminated. For a foster child, they are in the system because they have been removed from their biological parents for reasons that are unique to each case. Reasons for removal can ranger from neglect all the way to actual physical or sexual abuse.

With the case of these two little boys, I was told that they could be in our home anywhere from 6 months to a year. It was not my ideal dream, because I didn’t want to ever have to let go of any child that we would have placed with us, but there was always the possibility that the rights of the biological parents would be terminated. If they were in our home, we would be the first to have the option of adopting them.

I am sure from the outside, reading this, that this sounds so harsh. How can I hope that someone’s rights for their biological child are terminated? Please let me make myself very clear before I go any further. It is my absolute belief that the absolute best place for a child is with their biological parents- IF, AND ONLY IF the child is in a healthy, safe and secure environment. If those three things- health, safety and security- are not the priority of the home- it is NOT in the best interest of that child to be with their biological parents just because they share the same DNA. It is not at all a biological argument, it is child’s well-being argument. If a child is in an unhealthy, unsafe or insecure place, they should be removed- biological, foster, adopted, day care, school, extra-curricular activity. This is just basic common sense- or, should I say, I would assume that this would be basic common sense. As I have stated throughout many of my articles it appears that common sense is a thing of the past! I have learned through our experiences in the Foster Care System that common sense is most definitely missing in regards to the rights of a child. More often than not, the “rights” of the biological parents are put before the rights of the child in the eyes of the law! It is absolutely appalling, but as you will see as our journey unfolds, the proof glaringly obvious!

Back to our story.

Within just a few days of the boys arriving to our home, the oldest one had a birthday. He was turning 4-years-old. Of course we planned a birthday party for him. He was so overwhelmed! Though we had invited just our closest friends, he received an abundance of birthday presents! We did not realize until later that he had probably never had a real birthday party. While I was so excited at the thought that we had the honor of giving him what was more than likely his very first birthday party, I was also overwhelmed with sadness- and anger- to realize that he had never had this joy given to him. Even if you are not wealthy you should be able to save up enough through the year for a very small birthday party! How much is a package of cupcakes? Kids do not expect extravagance!

It was the most amazing feeling in the world to be a mommy! While the youngest little boy could not talk yet, and the oldest little boy did not call me mommy, but chose instead to call me “Ms. ‘Llenah”, I was in fact their mommy at this point in their lives. This is not something that I took lightly. This was the most amazing honor, to know that I had been entrusted with these little lives.

There is a detail in this story that I have left out up to this point that I must add. For me and my husband it was not an issue at all. The only reason I am going to share this detail with you now is because it is something that I must bring to light, and to tell this part of the story, this detail must be shared.

These two little boys- our first two foster children- are black. For the record, my husband and I are very white!  I was told in the initial phone call their race, and it never fazed me. I did not care what color their skin was! I just wanted to love them!

It now becomes an important part of the story because it saddens me to realize that racism still runs so deep in the veins of our country. We can deny it all we want, but the reality is that there is racism that runs deep in all races. It is not just in the white community, racism exists in every community. Just as I, as a Caucasian (“white”) woman, am not racist, there are white people that are racist. There are black people that are not racists. There are black people that are racist. There are Hispanics that are not racists. There are Hispanics that are racists. There are Asians that are not racist. There are Asians that are racist. We cannot put a label on any one group because of a select group within that group.

I believe that the breeding of racism is actually fueled by every facet of our government. If it were not, why is it a question that is asked on every single legal and government form? The color of my skin does not determine my character, just as it does not determine yours.

I have taken a detour on this issue because it is another passion that is dear to my heart, as I am sure you can see by now. In fact, with our current President, it seems that anyone who opposes him is a “racist”.  I laugh- a very sad and ridiculous laugh- when I am called a racist or a bigot, which actually happens more than you probably would imagine due to the fact that I am heavily involved in political conversations online. If they only knew half of my views and actual life choices they would realize how ridiculous their words are. If they only knew the truth! But then again- most of these people who want to throw the race card around wouldn’t know truth if it jumped up and hit them in the face! Oh well. They are the ones with egg on their face, not me!

While I am very passionate about my convictions on this topic, I also realize that there are many who choose to live in ignorance. That is their prerogative. They will never know the many wonderful people they are missing out on knowing because they cannot see past the color of their skin.

I have tried to deal with this passionate conviction of mine by ignoring the ignorance of others. There are just some people that refuse to admit they may be wrong about something.

One Saturday, we took the boys to eat pizza. I was oblivious to everything and everyone around me. I was a mommy, and I was enjoying every single moment of it! As we were leaving, I could feel my husband’s tension. I asked him what was wrong. He said nothing was wrong, but I knew better. Something was just not right with him! I knew that there were no conflicts between the two of us; the boys had been perfect little angels; and there had not been any conflict that I could see while we were eating.  As I continued to question him, he told me we just needed to leave.

I finished wiping up the boys, and we headed out the door. My husband told me he would tell me what was going on when we got in the car.

Once we got the boys buckled into their car seats, and were driving away, he told me that there was an older white man in the restaurant that seemed to be appalled that we- a white couple- had two black children. My husband said every time I would wipe one of the boy’s faces, or give them a kiss, or tickle them, or whatever else I would do with them, he would grumble and scowl at me. He said it was all he could do to keep his mouth shut and not tell the man off.

I began to chuckle. My husband turned quickly and asked me what was so funny. I told him how sad it was that this man could not see past his own insecurities. He had to pass judgment on us, knowing nothing of our situation. I am by no means saying we deserve, need or want special attention or accolades for the call that has been placed on our hearts. It is actually quite the opposite. We are doing this because we have been called by God for a purpose. But this man has no idea the joy he is missing out on! All he could see is two very dark black little boys receiving love and affection, hugs and kisses from a very white couple. How could that be?

Love. Plain and simple. Love does now know the boundary of colors. Love is love. And strangely enough, it was not until my 30’s that I truly understood what love is. It is not at all what our society defines it as. I will have to write an article on this later, because I believe it is an intrinsic part of our journey. Love. Such a beautiful thing that is so misunderstood!

One of the most interesting details to this story is that overall, my husband is usually the very calm side of our marriage. I tend to be the irrational, impetuous, spout-off-at-the-mouth side of our marriage. In this instance, our roles were reversed. It took everything in him to remain calm and quiet, while in my obliviousness to this man’s racism, I was very calm, even after knowing the situation.

His ignorance did not matter the least to me. He was the one missing out. Not me!

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Our True Battle Begins

The previous chapter in this series: Finally! The Pitter Patter of Little Feet!

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Nuggets of Freedom

Last week, I asked my friend’s children “What do you think freedom means?” Her four-year old answered “It means eating chicken nuggets.” While her big brother found this answer hilarious, she is actually not that far off. Everywhere we look, the government is trying to tell parents what they may and may not feed their children.

The government has been consistently crossing the line in this, Michelle Obama’s pet project, her fight against obesity.  The first major step over this boundary happened in November of last year, when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors banned McDonald’s Happy Meals. The measure created nutritional requirements, and any meal which did not meet these requirements could not provide a toy with the meal. In addition, restaurants would haveto provide fruits and vegetables with any meal that came with a toy.

Supervisor Eric Mar, sponsor of the issue, said “We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice,” Food justice? How about justice for parents who want to make decisions for their children?

Deep Fried Freedom

Now they’re looking at a similar ban in New York City. New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie’s bill would have similar nutritional guidelines, and would include a fine for restaurants that continue to provide toys without meeting these standards.  Mason Smoot, VP and GM of McDonald’s in the NY metro area said “We provide options for our customers and trust them to make the decisions that are right for their families. Politicians should too.” I can’t help but agree.

One of the big problems with this kind of state interference is that it begins to tiptoe further and further into our daily lives. First, we had the government telling parents what they could not feed their children: Aside from the fast food issue, schools banned sugary drinks, then any drinks at all (they would provide water), and desserts. Now we a have the government telling parents what they may feed their children. Little Village Academy, a public school in Chicago, we are seeing parents loose all options at all. Students at LVA are no longer allowed to bring a lunch from home, unless they have a medical excuse.

How do they justify this? Principal Elsa Carmona said that “Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school. It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.” It’s up to the parent to make an exception, not the principal. This is not a Chicago Public Schools mandate, it is up to each individual school’s principal.

1941 Poster from an Oklahoma School

CPS Spokeswoman Monique Bond wrote in an email “In this case, this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom.” Honestly, nobody finds this alarming? If that were the case, why not offer optional nutrition classes for parents, or send recommendations home with students who bring a packed lunch? This doesn’t provide the students or parents with the information to make good choices, it takes away the choice all together.

This policy requires all children who do not qualify for free meals to pay for lunch, which is yet another public intrusion into private wallets. “We don’t spend anywhere close to that on my son’s daily intake of a sandwich (lovingly cut into the shape of a Star Wars ship), Goldfish crackers and milk,” education policy professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach wrote in an email. “Not only would mandatory school lunches worsen the dietary quality of most kids’ lunches at Nettelhorst, but it would also cost more out of pocket to most parents! There is no chance the parents would stand for that.”

Some parents, of course, are happy to hand over responsibility to the government. Miguel Medina likes the policy. “The school food is very healthy,” he said, “and when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food.” Why in the world should the government have “control” over the food your child eats? If you want to abdicate that responsiblity, sign them up for school lunches.

However, in this case, there may be additional forces at play. The federal government pays the school district for each free or reduced-price lunch served, and the caterer gets a fee for each lunch they provide. It makes me wonder if Rahm Emmanuel owns the school’s catering service.

San Antonio, TX: Good People Needed!

  

This is an email that I received from one of my contacts I have made through my journey in the Foster Care system. If you are interested, or know someone that is, I can personally speak for the authenticity of Mrs. Villarreal.

Need Good People!! Please Pass On!

Dear People I Know,

My company, Pathways, has a contract to provide Hospital Sitting services to children in state care who are hospitalized for medical reasons and require an adult to be present during their stay.  We are looking for help to spread the word and find more people willing to be there for a child in need.  Our referrals range from newborns to teens and a Sitter can sign up for as many or as few “shifts” as they would like when we send out the announcement for a specific child.  The Sitter is there to provide company, document the medical progress and services, and advocate for them if they are in need of immediate attention.  No medical knowledge or experience is required — just some time and a desire to help. Sitters are paid $10 per hour.

I am hoping you’ll share this information with friends, families, co-workers, church members, neighbors, etc. to help us meet the increasing need for this service.  An application packet is attached!  If you have questions please call Suzette at 210-733-7117 or share her email ([email protected]) with anyone interested.

Thank you!

Danielle Villarreal
Family Specialist
Pathways Youth and Family Services, Inc.
4243 E. Piedras Drive, Ste. 100
San Antonio, TX 78228
(210)733-7117 Phone
(210)733-7118 Fax
[email protected]

Fostering Hope

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is March-September 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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During the 8 weeks of our training, we met another couple who were going through the process to be foster parents. We got to know them quite well, and shared with them why we were going through the process.

Their goal was different from ours. They had a daughter who was already grown and had her own son, but they knew that had a big house with a lot of room, and plenty of love in their hearts to share with kids who needed love.

We never would have imagined when we first met them how quickly we would all become so close. I am so thankful that this was the case, because this process is not a walk in the park. It is a very long and enduring journey. You need someone to help you cope with everything you are experiencing. If they are experiencing the same process, it helps, I believe.

It did not take long for us to realize that there were many people that did not have the same intentions that we did. I was appalled at some of the questions that we heard during our classes.

How would we be paid?

When are we paid?

How do they determine what children are placed in what home- do they look at race?

Money seemed to be the main goal for many of these people! Yes, it is an added bonus that the State pays you to be a foster parent. In most cases, you are even compensated in adoptions as well. But to know that the only questions these people had was in regards to the money just infuriated me! Not only were they here seeking a way to make money, but they were doing it at the expense of children who had already been abused! These children were nothing but pawns- a way to make an extra buck- for these people!

For others, to know that they would not accept a child into their home that was a different race just sickened me. I am by no means trying to judge, but a child- any child, no matter what color their skin is, should be loved and cherished.

If you are not wanting to adopt a child of a different race, I can somewhat see through those lenses. I do not agree with it at all, but I can accept that. But to know that you will not even hug a child, provide them with shelter because their skin is a different color, this is just absolutely disgusting to me. However, I am sure it is better that this be made known rather than have a child of a different race be placed in that home and then that child becomes a victim of abuse at the hands of someone who is supposed to be protecting them from the abuse they have already endured.

At times, it was very difficult to sit through our classes that were required for our certifications. It was not at all because the information was too difficult. It was because of the other people who were there to be certified.

After going through this process, I believe one of the first steps in the process should be a complete drug screening and psychological check. Many of these children in foster care are removed because the biological parents are using illegal substances in the home. The State does not require that foster parents be drug tested. This is just amazing me to me. We had to have a TB test taken, but we never once had to give a urine or blood specimen.

I believe a psychological exam should also be required, because some of the people that were in our classes definitely would not have passed. How in the world can you entrust a child to people like this? They have already been taken from one home, at the very least, if not many homes. Putting them in yet another home where there is psychological issues of any kind is asking for trouble.

You are required to have a home study. I would assume that a lot of information comes out in these home studies. Having gone through one, I know the questions that are asked. However, if you decide to be dishonest, and there is nothing on your legal record, then there is no way of really knowing the truth. I believe this is how many people slip past the approval process who should never be allowed to have a child in their home. A psychological exam would prevent some of these issues. I am sure that some would slip by still, because no system is perfect. However, if just one foster parent who had ill-intentions or psychological issues was prevented from going through the system, then all the money that is required to implement this process would be worth it- for just one single person.

We finally completed our classes, obtained all the licenses we needed, had our fingerprints taken and our backgrounds checked, and had our TB test taken. All we were waiting on was my driving record. My husband’s driving record had arrived, but mine had been lost in the mail somewhere. By the time it was all said and done, we had to request my driving record four times before we actually received it.

It truly is amazing how God works. Even when you do not understand something, there is always a purpose and a reason for things happening. Every day that I live, this is concreted more securely in my mind and heart. Everything happens for a reason! Even if we do not understand what that reason is, there is still a reason.

We were getting very anxious. The only thing we needed was one piece of paper, and we could have children in our home.

I had already resigned my position at work so I could stay at home with the children. We had the rooms ready and waiting.

And we sat waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

It was almost a month after I quit my job before we were actually able to bring children home. Looking back, I realize now that God was giving me a vacation. It was already much needed, but I could have never imagined that this almost month of vacation was going to be something I would have to draw from in the years to come. 

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Love Plain and Simple

The previous chapter in this series: Finally! The Pitter Patter of Little Feet!

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Facing My Fears

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is January-March 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

____________________

We finally decided we had reached the end of the fertility journey. We would not try again. It was just too painful. Not necessarily physically, though that was painful. The emotional and mental pain was unbearable at this point.

We had discussed adoption, and were both very willing to adopt, but we also knew that we did not have the financial resources to pursue this option. So at this point we were going to have to just accept that we were not going to have children.

We had talked about trying to move closer to my family. My brother lives in the Dallas area, and we live in the San Antonio area. While we are in the same state, we are still about 3 ½ hours apart. We began to pray about it and left it in God’s hands.

My husband began searching for a job in the area. If this was what God wanted, He would have to open the doors necessary for us to move.

Within just a few days he got a response from his resume, and had a phone interview that went very well. They asked him to come up for an interview in-person. We made the arrangements and went to Dallas for his interview. He was offered the position.

We gave our notices at work, gave our notice to our landlords, and began to make preparations for the move. However, I never packed a single box. Usually, that is the first thing I do if we are preparing for a move.

We made arrangements for my brother and his family to help us move some things to their house temporarily. My husband would go on and start working while I stayed behind to finalize the packing and moving preparations. My brother and his family came down to take a bed back with them. My husband was to leave on Sunday to start work on Monday.

Saturday night we were both very restless. We lay in bed, talking. Neither of us were at peace. Why was this? We had prayed for God’s direction, He had answered. All of the doors were thrown wide open for us. We had not received any bumps along the way. So why were we not at peace? 

We did not go to sleep until 4am Sunday morning. He was supposed to leave around noon. After an entire night of talking and praying, we decided that he was not going to go to Dallas. We did not understand why this had all happened, but we knew very clearly that he was not supposed to go. None of this made sense to either of us. Why would all of this have happened if we were not supposed to move?

My husband had no problem at all rescinding his notice at his job. He did not know it at the time, but another co-worker had given their notice the same week he had given his. This left his company with only one systems analyst in the field. His boss had asked him if he would reconsider the move, and my husband told him this was the decision we had to make. Friday- his last day of work, his boss offered him a considerable raise to reconsider.

We have often wondered if this was the reason this all happened. Was this God’s way of providing more income for us? I do believe this is part of the reason. But the real reason- or should I say reasons- were yet to be realized.

Around this time we had friends who had become foster parents through the State. They told us about the program, and suggested that we check it out. We were not sure how it all worked, but needless to say, our interest was piqued.

I was in a discussion with two of my dear friends who knew the fertility process we were going through. I told them about our other friends who were becoming foster parents, and suggested that we check into it. I told them that I did not know if I wanted to do it. One of the ladies turned to me and said, “You are being selfish.” She told me that I was being selfish in many ways, none of the least of which was that I was depriving a child the love of a good home. Wow! Talk about hitting you below the belt! That took a lot to digest.

That day she shared something with me that I had never known about her- she was adopted. I knew she had a very difficult childhood, but I did not know that she had left home at an early age and was taken in by friends’ family. At the age of 18 they adopted her. She said if it were not for the lady that adopted her, she would not know Christ today.

She made me stop and think. The reality of the situation was that I was scared. We had gone through so many procedures, jumped through so many hoops, had our hearts hurt so many times; the thought of more pain was just unbearable. I was letting fear prevent me from moving forward.

That day I faced my fears. I realized that my friend was right. I was being selfish. At this point I could not even acknowledge to myself, much less voice to someone else that her arguments had been right.

Over the next couple of weeks I thought a lot about our conversation. I talked to my husband about everything, and he was completely ready to find out what we needed to know to get started in the foster-to-adopt program.

In March of 2007 we attended the informational meeting. The thought alone was overwhelming to me. We could go through these classes, get our certifications, get our background checks, have our home inspected, and we could have kids. And it would cost us very little money! The only out-of-pocket expenses we would have would be the fees necessary for background checks, licensing fees, and the other miscellaneous items. With a quick calculation, we were estimating less than $300 total and we would be able to be parents! Why was this not made known to more people who are struggling to have children?

It would not be long before I understood that it’s not really that simple.

We took an application home and filled it out. Within a week we were sitting in our first class.

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Fostering Hope

The previous chapter in this series: A Missed Message

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

A Missed Message

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is 2002-2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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I hate tests. It does not matter what kind of test it is or how well I know the information. For some strange reason, I become a bundle of nerves when I have to take a test. So it should not have surprised me when time after time after time I failed this test too! How in the world do you fail a pregnancy test? Well, I figured out how!

You may be wondering how in the world I seem to be making a joke about something so serious. I have learned through this whole process that you have to find humor in all situations. I have not been able to do that in every step of this journey, but when I find something that is remotely funny, I hold on to it for dear life. I guess in some small way this is how I hold on to my sanity. Well, there would be some that would argue that point as well, but it helps me cope!

When we decided that we would go down the road of fertility treatments, we sat down and discussed where we would stop. We knew that we had to have a line firmly drawn in the sand before we ever got started. Just as with anything, if you do not know where you stand before you get into the situation; it is way too easy to keep moving the line for which you say you will not cross. For each couple that line is different. For us, we decided together that we would go no further than the IUI (Inter Uterine Injection). We knew that IVF was out of the question for us. Financially, there was just no way IVF was an option for us. But aside from the financial decision, in our research throughout this journey, we have found out that this procedure is very painful. They actually harvest the eggs from the woman’s ovaries.

My body had already endured so many procedures at this point that I was in pain all the time. I refrained from voicing this to anyone outside of my husband. I tried not to tell him, because I knew that he was very torn. While he wanted children, he did not like to see me going through so much pain. I already had weight issues before we started this process, but the continual medications and hormonal changes sent my weight into overdrive. This was the last thing we needed.  I had to have so many blood tests that I was virtually a walking bruise. I had to have so many sonograms that just seeing a sonogram machine in the hallway made my body tense up.

Early on in our procedures, they discovered that my Estrogen level was extremely low. What this means is that if I did become pregnant, the risk of miscarrying was huge. My body would not be able to carry a baby to term with my Estrogen level so low. So I had to take Estrogen suppositories vaginally after every attempt to get pregnant, just in case the attempt was successful. This process was very messy and felt disgusting. And I had to make sure it was left in as long as possible. So once again, I had to make sure my buttock was elevated for an extended period of time. I started out with one suppository a day, and then increased to two a day. So I was going to bed with a treatment and waking up with a treatment. Remaining graceful during this part of the process was impossible.

I do not give these explicit details for sympathy or shock value. As much detail as I am giving, it does not fully depict the actual experience. For the sake of some semblance of privacy for us, as well as decorum with my readers, I am trying to be as vague as possible. However, to get the real picture, you have to hear some details.

And again, you may be asking yourself, as my friend asked me, why would I go through so much pain? Because we wanted a child. We wanted to be parents.

My friend, though I am quite sure she had the best of intentions, hurt me more than words can say. In the conversation where she was berating my husband for “making” me go through all of this, she told me that I did not need to go through all of this for kids, I could enjoy her kids. While, again, I realize she was trying to help the situation, she had no idea that she was making it so much worse.

We had gotten to the pinnacle of our fertility journey. This was the last procedure. We were at the IUI point. We had decided we would not do more than two IUI procedures. If neither were successful, that was the end of the road for us.

We went in for the procedure.

Unfortunately, this is not at all what I had envisioned as a little girl when I dreamed of becoming a mommy. Going into a doctor’s office, having my temperature taken time and time again, having blood drawn time and time again, having sonograms done time and time again, taking numerous medications time and time again- well, that does not make for the most romantic movie scene.

This experience was one of the most nerve-racking experiences of our journey. First, I had to go through the entire procedure of having a sonogram done to make sure the follicles were the right size to proceed. They were. So on to the next step.

My husband had to make a “deposit” in a cup. Again, not the most romantic experience that you dream of. Add that to the fact that the office was in the middle of moving to another location, so there were boxes stacked all through the halls, examining tables moved out into the hall, people milling around everywhere- all of this while we are in the private “room” (a large restroom with a chair, a TV/VCR combination, and a diverse collection of adult movies and magazines). While we were nervously trying to do what was necessary, there was a very loud bump at the door of our “room”. An examining table had inadvertently been shoved into the door. By this point, we were both ready to get this over with.

After the “deposit” was made, we had to give it to the nurse in the lab. She had to run tests on the “deposit” to make sure everything was good with that side of the procedure. It would take an hour to know if it was or not. So we went to lunch.

After lunch, we went back to the office, and yes, that side was good as well. So off to the examining room we go. My legs go up in the stir-ups yet again. A syringe is inserted into me, and my husband’s sperm is injected straight into my cervix. While it was by no means the most comfortable thing in the world, definitely not romantic or pleasurable, by any stretch of the imagination, but neither was it the most painful experience. After the injection, I had to lift my buttocks off the examining table as long as possible. Then I had to turn on my side, all the while, keeping my buttocks elevated. By the end of the procedure I was sure that I was qualified to join the circus!

After the procedure was completed, we were free to leave. Thank you very much, ma’am! Gives new meaning to the term Wham! Bam! Thank you, Ma’am!

So now the waiting begins. We had become quite accustomed to waiting.

And then it arrived. It was one of those dreaded mornings. It was time to pee on a stick yet again.

I went to the bathroom and peed on the stick. And we sat waiting and watching the clock. The five minutes you have to wait for the test results to show on the stick seems more like five hours. But finally the wait was over. We held hands and walked over to the bathroom counter. I am sure we looked like we were taking the walk to the death chamber. Negative.

So we try one more time.

My husband asked me if I was sure I wanted to go through another procedure. At this point I could not even answer him. I ran a bath, and crawled in the hot water. I was hurt. I was angry. And I had to get ready to go to work. I cried. I got angry. I got angry with God and I told Him all about it.

Very few times have I known that God has spoken directly to me. But this day, I knew God had spoken. But I did not like what He said at all! “Be still and know that I Am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

This sent me into a rage. I was having a full conversation- out loud- with God. No, I was not praying. I was ranting. My husband came around the corner of the bathroom and asked me what in the world was going on. I told him I was talking to God.  The look on his face spoke volumes. He knew that I was angry. I told him that God had spoken to me, and what He had said. But when I spoke the words, they came out more as a curse than an acknowledgment or praise of God Almighty. There was heavy sarcasm in my voice as I spat out, “Be still and know that I Am God. What does He mean? Does He think I don’t know Who He Is?” At this point, my husband is almost literally backing away from me. He has no idea why in the world this has upset me. It did not stop there. I was in a very foul mood as I got dressed. At this point, we only had one vehicle, so he drove me to work. As I got out of the car, he kissed me goodbye and wished me  good day. I started up once again, my voice full of sarcasm as I repeated what God had told me that morning.

Did He really not think I knew Who He Is? This truly boggled my mind. And it made me angry. While I have not always lived my life in a Godly manner, I have never doubted the existence of God. For many years of my life I felt that I could never measure up to God’s standards. I knew I could not be good enough. I had tried and failed too many times. I did not know all of those years as I continued to run from God that this is exactly the point. I can never be good enough. None of us can ever be good enough. That is why Jesus had to become our Sacrificial Lamb on the cross. But it was never shown to me in this way, so I did not understand it. But by this point in my life, I did get it. I knew that I knew that I knew Who God Is.

Knowing that I had already gone through the excruciating painful, yet very beautiful journey of discovery God in all of His majesty, glory, mercy, love, and forgiveness, I did not understand why God would be telling me this. Especially on a day like today, when we had yet another let-down in trying to have a child. I know Who God Is. Where is His message of hope and love? Where is His message of encouragement and promises? There was nothing. There was only the reminder that He Is God.

I totally missed the message that day. It was not until many months later, if not a couple of years later that I actually understood what God was telling me that day. Now, this verse of Scripture is one of my favorite. It is one that I hold on to in my desperate hours. It is so important to me that it is posted in two different places in our home.

God IS God. Yes, I understood that. But I did not get the being still part. I am a person who is always on the go. My brother jokes with me that I need to start a “Flutter-ers Anonymous” Group. “Hello, my name is Allenah, and I am a flutter-er. It is a struggle for me to sit and watch a 30-minute TV show. To watch a movie without getting up is next to impossible. I absolutely hate going to the movie theatre. To be confined in one place for so long is excruciating for me.

To me, telling me to be still meant to sit still, physically. While yes, I do believe that is part of the meaning of the Scripture, there is so much more depth that is there. It is not just to be still physically, but to be still spiritually. Do not fret. Do not worry. Know that God IS in control. He knows what He is doing. He has a plan. (Jeremiah 29:11)

To this day, Psalm 46:10 brings a smile to my face. It is a peaceful smile. If my husband and I are together and this Scripture is quoted, there is a knowing glance between us. God did give me a promise that day. I just did not understand it at the time.

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Facing My Fears

The previous chapter in this series: Dreams Of A Little Girl Shattered…Or Are They?

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

To say that our Foster Care system is broken is a gross understatement. Whether it is the actual Child Protective Service agency, the individual case workers, the judges deciding the cases, foster parents, or the law itself is hard to pinpoint. I would venture to say it is most likely all of these factors combined.

My main question is this: who hears the voice of the children? Or more especially, who speaks for the children? It should be all of the people above: CPS, case workers, foster parents, judges and the law.

But more often than not, no one is taking that position.

We have judges that care more about the rights of the “parents” than the rights of the voiceless children.

You are probably asking yourself why the Foster Care system is something I care so much about. Am I a product of “The System”? No, I was never in Foster Care. However, all five of my children were. Please note that I said “were”. Thankfully, we have made it to the other side of the Foster Care system and our adoptions were finalized on all 5 of our children the summer of 2009.

Through our journey to have a family, my husband and I learned more than I ever would have imagined about the Foster Care System. When we started the process I wanted one child. My husband talked me into committing to adopting two children. One day in prayer God spoke to my heart and told me He was preparing us to have five children. I literally laughed out loud at God. Just a note of warning for you…. Don’t ever laugh at God!

Our journey is amazing- one I would not change for anything in this world! Yes, there have been many tears shed through this process. There have been many broken hearts. But there have also been countless blessings on this journey.

We have been asked if we plan to adopt any more. I do not have plans for that, but I leave that decision to God. He knows the plans He has for me and my husband (Jeremiah 29:11).

I have also been told that I cannot save the world.

I agree. I can’t save the world- only Jesus can do that! However, I know that I can change the world! I believe God has a plan to use me and my husband- our journey- His story lived out through our lives- to shine the light of truth on the atrocities that go on in the Foster Care System.

I am committed to giving a voice to the voiceless. These children have no one to be their voice. Oh yes, there are the occasional CPS Case Workers, judges, foster parents, teachers, or other people who have come into the lives of these children. But all too often these children “slip through the cracks” of the system.

One day it is my goal to stand before Congress and be the voice for these children. Laws need to be changed. Accountability needs to be set in place for anyone who has contact with these children that have been entrusted to the care of the state. This system is broken and someone MUST stand up and demand that it be fixed!

As of September 30, 2009, there were 423,773 children in foster care. This is the latest official number available. (Source: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/tar/report17.htm )

Currently, there are approximately 115,000 children in the United States Foster Care system waiting to be adopted. (Source: http://www.adoptuskids.org/resourceCenter/aboutTheChildren.aspx )

These statistics are astounding to me!

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So through the pain and anguish, heartache and anger of our journey, the joy is most definitely worth it! And in the process a passion has been lit inside my soul to be a voice for the hundreds of thousands of children who I cannot bring home and adopt.

As a Conservative leaning Libertarian I am often disgusted and appalled at the Liberal agenda. The common argument is that Conservatives have no heart for the poor and needy. Liberals argue that because as a Conservative I want to cut the Federal Budget to the barest minimum I have no heart. I would challenge anyone who says these things to stop expecting the government to help the needy and step up and help them yourself! If you truly care so much about those in need, show them you care, do not “trust” the government to take care of the needy! And as you can see from the statistics there are many lives that need help! Where are all those bleeding heart liberals? These children need all of us to speak up for them and take action! This is our future we are talking about! 

I invite you to come along on this journey with me. It does not matter to me if you are Conservative, Liberal, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, straight or gay. If you dare to follow me on this journey, prepare yourself. At times you will be angry. Other times you will cry. Occasionally, you will smile, or even laugh. However, those times are rare in “The System”.

I will share our family story so that you will have a small glimpse into the darkness that truly exists. I pray that God will allow His Light to shine through me- our story- to change the world for these voiceless children. My prayer is that through our lives you will add your voice to mine. These children need to be heard!

Will you join me? Together, we can make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of children!

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The story begins: Dreams Of A Little Girl Shattered… Or Are They?

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors

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