Miracle Mondays: “Paper Sack Kids” by Brenda K.

papersack-kidsLast November “Grandma K” got in touch with me regarding my “Best Books for Foster and Adoptive Families” at “Mommy Monsters.” She had a book she thought my readers might enjoy, called Paper Sack Kids. It tells the stories of some of the kids who have come through the home of her sister Diane, who with her husband Rex have touched the lives of foster children for more than thirty years.

In one fell swoop, the gray-haired woman opened her door, the passenger door behind her, and the trunk lid. There were no “hellos,” “sure is warm out, isn’t it?” nor any mention of how cute the new batch of puppies, scrambling at her feet, were. She was a burned-out bustle, ready to unlead the car of cargo and her commission, tired as the gray that permeated the windy afternoon.

Three children and one sraggly blanket huddled close to each other in the back seat. The woamn was already lifting the top half of her body out of the car’s trunk. “C’mon, kids,” was the first indication that the lady had a voice. She carried three worn paper sacks from the trunk to the front porch.

Diane bent down to receive her new kids. “Let’s see, I think you must be …” (her mind scanned again the note on her kitchen cabinet). “You must be Corinne,” she welcomed the eldest, who had dark brown eyes and flawless skin. Instead of the excitement and interest of childhood, there was a dull responsible look in Corinne’s umber eyes.

“And you must be Zack.” Diane saw the face of an emotionally exhausted little boy. His four-year-old fingers exhibited the sum total of all his faith as he tightened his grip on Corinne’s five-year-old hand. The social worker reached into the car to bring out a frightened two-year-old Shelly, who was clutching her well-worn blanket. In a glance, Diane thought she could tell that the tattered little comforter had once been pink. Long ago, perhaps, before Shelly’s mom had stuffed it in the wash with some of her boyfriend’s Levis. The little cover was the baby’s last tiny bit of tightly knit security and so she held it tight. Everything else in Shelly’s innocent and tender life had become ugly and unraveled….

Diane turned to the huddled, wide-eyed children and gave a silent prayer. It helped her survive the ache she felt at times like this. The prayer was also an acknowledgment that all of us are literally foster children. We each need a spiritual hug to still our hown heavenly homesickness once in a while. “Father, please bless our home to be able to bless these children.” Some days, life gets pretty hard to understand, even for social workers and foster parents.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a foster parent? What do you say when they come … and if they go? How do you handle it all? I invite you to go over to Brenda’s website, and get a copy of this lovely book. You’ll be glad you did. (To order your own copy of “Paper Sack Kids,” contact Brenda at  brenda7k@msn.com).

Miracle Monday: “Forever Mom” at the Movies!

fosteradoptToday I came across a new (to me) website for those interested in learning about foster care, called “Learn to Foster & Adopt.” Although the organization focuses on foster and adoption in the San Francisco area, much of the information is relevant to the needs of foster and adoptive parents all over the country. (I was particularly impressed with the fact that they focus almost exclusively in promoting through new media.)

One article that caught my eye was by “Forever Mom,” a review of the movie Hotel for Dogs. The author writes, “… foster and adoptive parents should be aware that there are major foster care and adoption themes [in this movie] that might upset some children – particularly those who have experienced abuse and neglect, a lack of food, multiple moves and/or sibling separation.”

One of the most challenging parts of foster parenting (or foster-adoptive parenting) is trying to anticipate the long-term consequences of events that would be non-issues for other children. This movie is one such example, but the list can be endless: a holiday, birthday card, sleep-over, or new pet. Each of these things can bring back old memories, reopen new wounds.

However, I find this woman’s compassion and sensitivity a refreshing example of how foster parents — GOOD foster parents — can help children from troubled backgrounds gain perspective and healing from the past. Check out this wonderful website … You’ll meet other inspiring men and women just like her!

6 Things to Know Before Becoming a Foster Parent

carriecraftCarrie Craft at About Adoption.com has a lot of helpful, practical advice about all aspects of adoption and foster parenting. If you aren’t already familiar with her site, I suggest you check it out!

Today I came across this article, “Six Things to Know Before Becoming a Foster Parent”. Lots of good, basic information about the logistics of foster parenting. If you’re contemplating foster parenting and aren’t sure where to begin, this article may help!

Should We Consider Foster Care or Foster-Adoption?

Check out my article today at Catholic Exchange, and decide for yourself!

WIth 500,000 children currently in need of temporary or permanent homes … TODAY, Christians who want to affirm the dignity and value of human life from conception to natural death can do no better than to open their hearts and homes to a child.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how rich. The other day at the Post-Gazette I read this heartwarming story of a couple who has been fostering kids for 35 years!

You don’t have to be a homeowner, or have a lot of money (foster kids come with their own insurance, and are eligibale for all kinds of services to offset the expense of raising them).

You can be a single parent, or a working parent — many states offer daycare subsidies as well as college tuition for foster children (and former foster children). They are also eligible for free hot lunch and WIC.

All you need is a lot of love and patience, and a spare bed (children of the same sex can room together).  And the willingness to be a force for good in a system that desperately needs a “Few Good (Wo)Men.”

“It is in love that we are made” (National Catholic Register)

I was grieved and not a little aggravated to read this article in the National Catholic Register today. If I hadn’t read it with my own eyes, I would never have imagined that a respected Catholic publication such as NCR would permit such a blatant attack on what is at the heart a truly pro-life issue.

As I’ve often said, adoption is never God’s first choice for a child. He intended children to be raised in the loving embrace of a man and woman joined for life in the sacrament of matrimony. When that bond is broken, yes the child suffers. So do the parents.

And yet, it is not the act of adoption that is the source of the problem. When two people fail to live up to their God-given calling, they make choices that leave permanent scars on their child.  Whether the marks are genetic or caused by living in a toxic environment prior to placement, adoption is often that child’s best chance to find the loving support he or she needs to recover.

As a mother of two children adopted from the foster-care system, I do not share the author’s amazement that the adoptive parents she encountered seemed like “normal” — even kind — individuals. It takes a great deal of heart to accept God’s call to participate in the redemption of a human soul. We make mistakes, as all parents do. But we accept the calling because we have a profound belief in the power of God to transform lives.

My letter to NCR reads in part:

No child is adopted as a “clean slate.” Any number of difficulties — both genetic and environmental, including those that led to the child being “in the system” in the first place — made an indelible mark on that child long before he was adopted.

It is true that adopted children grieve the loss of their birth parents, and that part of our job as adoptive parents is to help them work through their grief. But to blame the act of adoption itself is simply wrongheaded.

Just as two people participate with God in the act of creation when they come together as man and wife to produce a child, so through adoption we have an opportunity to participation in the REDEMPTION of that child. It is not always an easy road, and like all parents we make our share of mistakes.  But there is ample grace as well.

If your life has been touched by adoption, please feel free to add your voice to this important pro-life issue!

EMN Carnival #1: Tea Time!

I wanted this, our first Carnival, to be a friendly introduction to the women you’ll be hearing from now and again through EMN. We’re just getting started, and I’m hoping this time next month there are many more entries for you to peruse. But for now, just pour yourself a favorite cuppa, and “come and see.” (This is a picture of my favorite teapot … just ignore the tree!) Continue reading

Foster Care by State

Carrie Craft

Carrie Craft

Today I came across this useful state-by-state guide, compiled by foster care and adoption expert Carrie Craft. Carrie has a wealth of information for parents who are considering foster care or foster-adoption.

If you have ever considered opening your home to one of the 500,000 children in the U.S. in need of temporary or permanent homes, this is a great place to start!