Tag Archives: foster care

What I Want for Mothers’ Day

Frequent readers, friends, and family members know that my mom passed away nearly ten years ago.  I do not remember the last Mothers’ Day I had with her; in fact, I do not think I was with her.  I actually do not think, at the time of Mothers’ Day that year, that I had accepted that she would die even though all indications had made that pretty clear.  I do not remember the first Mothers’ Day after she died or any particular ones after that one.

Sometimes we choose to forget things that are painful.

Mothers’ Day should not be a day filled with pain, regret, fear, hurt, disappointment, or sadness. Yet – because life is what it is – we know that it is not pain free.  We read it on the internet, we hear it from friends, and we know it in our hearts.  Most of our greatest celebrations in life come with that tinge of some unwelcome feeling.

Sitting on my dining room table as I write these words is a box. On that box, my daughter has written, “Happy Mothers’ Day!”  I will open this gift tomorrow, and I will love whatever is in the box because my children put thought and time into choosing something to give me.

What they do not know and may never fully understand is that no gift could ever be better than the fact that they exist.  To be their mom has been one of the top three most defining and fulfilling experiences in my entire life.  They are the best gift that they could give me, and that has already happened.

But what I want this Mothers’ Day is not a thing, an experience, or even my kids.

I want things to be different for people who cannot celebrate well on this day.

I want “wanna-be moms” to know that they are important and have something to give regardless of whether they have children from their own wombs.  I do not use “wanna-be” in a derogatory sense here, and I apologize if anyone takes it that way.  Most of the time if we want to be something, we see something in a position or other person that we want to emulate or copy.  There are so many women – who want to be moms and who would make great moms – who are not.  For Mothers’ Day this year, I want them to know that they are important, have much to give to children around them, and are a vital part of society.  I want these women to be celebrated rather than relegated to the sidelines.

I want all kids to grow up with moms who raise them well and with a lot of love.  This is a pretty tall order, but I want it.  I do not want foster care to be a need in our country.  According to adoptioninstitute.org, “Between 1971 and 2001, U.S. citizens adopted 265,677 children from other countries.”  Imagine – if that many have been adopted, how many more remain without forever families?  At the same time, according to childrensrights.org, “On any given day, there are approximately 400,000 children in out-of-home care in the United States.”  We have so much need inside of our own country.  I want children who are currently abandoned worldwide or in United States foster care to find loving homes, and I want the reasons that these needs exists to be erased from our world.

I want women who have lost children due to death, miscarriage, or abortion to feel joy on this day again. I have no idea how to make this happen.  I feel like a broken record as I keep saying this.  But I want it.  I want those who feel that today is all about loss – a harsh remembrance of the grief that they feel – to know that today can be a day when they honor those who are no longer … or never were … with them.  For some, they do not appear to be mothers because there was no child outside of the womb. I say to you, “You are mothers!” I realize that I may be causing controversy by including mothers who aborted children in this paragraph, but my interactions with those who have chosen abortion tells me that their loss is similar – and as complicated – to those who have lost children through other ways. How can we – as a society – show them that they are still honored today? I want moms who deal with the death of a child – however it occurred – to know that God’s love is great.

I want those who have lost moms to be comforted.  I used to think that time healed fully.  What I have realized is that time creates a scab on wounds and that days, events, reminders, pull those scabs off and reveal the wound again. Mothers’ Day can be one of those events.  As the ten years have passed, the wound under the scab has become less intense, but the removal of the scab – whatever pulls it off hurts.  The pain is intense for a while, and then it goes for a while.  Some of us search for other people could “be mom” to us, but that only goes so far.  Eventually, we realize that it just is not enough. And it never will be.  I would love for moms to stop dying, but that is not the world that we live nor will it likely ever be.  If they did not mean so much to us, it would not hurt so much when they were gone.  Even if our relationships were strained, we hurt for what could have been.

As I wrap up this post, I want to share a bit from my faith-walk in this area.

God does not ignore us or turn a blind eye to our pain.  He sees us, He hears us, and He wants things to be different as well.  The mystery of free will means that pain will stay in our lives, but – in knowing God through His Son – we can see things differently.  We can look up from our situation and see that there is more going on in a situation than just our pain.  We can cry out in agony to the God who hears.  He will turn our mourning into dancing.  He will – some day in heaven – dry every tear, hold us close, and whisper, “You are mine, and you will never hurt again.”

Until then, may we be that voice for each other.

Whether you know it or not, You belong to God.  He sees your pain today and every day – whether Mothers’ Day related or not.  And He wants to hear from you.

Happy Mothers’ Day!


Filed under faith, Relationships, Thoughts

Giving Life Meaning

As I have mentioned in several posts, my job takes me on the road often.  It also has me visiting courthouses quite often. Recently, I was in Sherburne County for a hearing, and I saw the quote below in the courthouse.

I knew without even thinking that it would make a great blog post.


Read it again.

And again.

And again.

Download the picture, make it your screen’s photo for a day, and then be challenged by what it says.  How can this thought take root in us each and every day?

I also run into many people who think that they have nothing to give to the world around them.  They feel as though no one wants their help, that others are doing it all, or that their skills do not match the needs.

So not true! Willing hands, willing feet, and willing hearts are welcome in just about any volunteer organization around the country!

What have I seen that needs help?

The need for guardian ad litem positions is on the rise as children in foster care and in custody cases need an advocate for them.  Click here for information in Minnesota.  Those in other states can just Google for information.

The need for foster care families is always around with a shortage.  In fact, in Hennepin County, children remain at St Joseph’s Home for Children waiting for families that could care for them.  Because there are not enough families, children stay.

Perhaps foster care is not something you can do (that is legit, by the way!), consider volunteering with organization that support families.  Kinship or the Big Brother/Big Sister’s organizations are excellent ways to get involved.

And these are just the thoughts I have for impacting children.  There are countless ways that we can reach out to vulnerable adults or the elderly.

To hurt is human, but to help is also human.

What can I do today to impact tomorrow?

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Filed under Education, Parenting, Social Justice

Adoption Process: The Hard Stuff

November has been National Adoption Month.  I have written a few posts this month pertaining to the topic: Adoption – An Outside View, My Adoption – A Fairytale, and Caring for Orphans.  I was even made “the feature repost” on a site written by woman in a couple waiting to adopt.  The first post happened to be written on November 1, and I had no idea that it was Nation Adoption Month.  However, once I was aware of it, adoption, foster care, and orphan care were prominently on my mind throughout the month.  I thought it would be fitting to end the month with a relevant post about adoption as well.

The focus of conversations about adoption is so often on the end result – the adoption itself, a joyous occasion when everyone’s lives are forever changed.  However, as the author of the post that featured my post as her post states in a recent post titled “Silence,” there are hard parts to adoption as well.  As I have thought about writing this post over the past few days, three words kept coming to mind:  wanting, waiting, and losing.

The beginning of the adoption process for couples and families often stems from a want – a desire to add a child or an additional child to the family and/or a desire to reach out to a child in need.  The desire to bring a child or another child into the family stems from a variety of things.  A dream begins.  Adoption.  The seed is planted; the want is there.

Some couples find out that they cannot have biological children for some reason.  They have gone through all of the conventional ways of “having” children, and those ways have not worked.  This process is long and difficult and has several blog posts that could come from it.  I did not walk this road, and I feel very unprepared to discuss it.  It is a private and difficult road that many do not share with others for so many reasons.  It has been wrought with financial and emotional investment along with heartache and loss.  Once the grieving has passed about a dream that was, a new dream begins.  Adoption.  The seed is planted; the want is there.

Other couples have had children already and see a need in the world to which they can respond.  They feel called to this and promote it with others.  They read books, research, and pray.  They see that their nest is full, but it could be fuller.  Their homes are not always large, but they will make do with what they have and all will be cared for within its walls.  These families, as well as the families mentioned in the previous paragraph, will research all of their options: foster care, domestic adoptions, foreign adoptions.  They may not have gone through the same struggles as those mentioned in the previous paragraph, but once they begin the process, these families are just as set on the dream.  Adoption.  The seed is planted; the want is there.

Wanting to adopt leads to action – lots of it.  There are classes to attend.  There is paperwork to complete.  Social workers come to visit the home.  Trainings and support groups are added to the calendar.  Whether foster care, domestic adoption, or foreign adoption, there is a lot of work.  It is amazing to me that this much preparation goes into adoption while there really is no preparation for having a baby “the usual way.”  Kids fooling around as young as 11 “end up” with a pregnancy.  Can you imagine?  It’s true, though.  In that case, no one has to attend 40 hours of preparatory meetings, no one has to have a social worker say that a home is fit for children, and no one has to go through a background check, have their fingerprints taken, or prove that financially they can provide.  It just happens.  Anyway – sorry to rant.

Once all of that action is over, though, a period of waiting sets in.  For some, this period is brief.  If the couple has chosen to do typical foster care, the wait is seldom long as the need is great.  There are loads of other issues in foster care that this blog post will not address; however, children will be in your care quickly if traditional, temporary, foster care is your road. They may not stay long, but another round of those needing care will arrive soon after they leave.

For those choosing foster to adopt, domestic adoption, or foreign adoption, the waiting period is unpredictable.  I have known couples who have been in process for three to seven years.  This seems like an awful lot of waiting to me.  I can hardly wait for Friday to arrive this week….seven years seems like a long time from now.  This period of waiting is hard no matter how short it is.  Once a couple or family has made the decision to open their home, the home is ready and waiting for that child or children.  Waiting seems like such a waste of time!  The need is great, the children are many, and this home is waiting for a child.  What could the good be in waiting?  And yet, the wait goes on.  Days.  Weeks.  Months.  Years.

This is a hard side of adoption.

If waiting is hard, losing is even harder.  If wanting a child – for whatever the reason – leads a couple or family into the act of pursuing adoption and if waiting is hard, then losing is crushing.  As an outsider looking inward, my heart breaks – but only as an outsider.  I have experience pain and loss in my lifetime, but I have not had my hopes set on a baby girl whose due date I know and wait for.  I cannot even imagine how crushing this is to a couple or family.  I can only imagine that it must be as hard as experiencing a miscarriage or the death of child.  But there is something different about this loss.  This loss takes on a different face – and sometimes no face at all – than other losses.  In the case of domestic adoptions where, like in the blog post titled “Silence,” all of the prep work is done but the birth mother disappears or perhaps changes her mind, the baby may not have been in the home. The dream is lost.  The couple has to grieve.  The process has to start over.  Loss in the adoption world seems to take on many faces – all of them are painful, all of them are complicated.  And, while the rest of us put on our sympathy faces and then move on with our lives, the couple or family has to start over, re-evaluate the dream, and consider how to proceed.  If this cycle repeats itself several times, the couple begins to question and wonder what this is all about.

This is a hard side of adoption.

As only an outsider looking inward on the lives of many with this dream, I marvel at the strength that they have, the commitment to changing the lives of children that they have, and the ability to see tomorrow as a new day.  They are in this dream because of these qualities.  The adoption process is difficult, and adopting children is difficult.  And the reward is great.  Changing the life of a child in need is an amazing quest.

As I said thirty days ago, adoption and foster care may not be for everyone, but we are all called to minister to the orphans.  Instead of looking inward at those who choose to adopt and clucking our tongues when they have to wait for years, how can we support them (monetarily, physically, and emotionally) as they wait?  And then, once the children are in their care, how can we continue to support them?


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Caring for the Orphans

Yesterday, our church recognized Orphan Sunday, a national day meant to raise awareness of the orphan crisis around the world.

We heard staggering statistics about this worldwide issue.  Watch the video below to see and hear the numbers that we encountered yesterday.

Orphan Sunday 2011 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

These are staggering numbers, but each set of numbers represents actual children who are so much more than numbers could ever say. They each have a different face, a different story, and a different future. Overwhelmingly, though, their futures seem very similar and appear dim. If we believe the statistics, over half of the children in these numbers have very bleak futures that include homelessness, suicide, prostitution, and crime.

That does not have to be the case! Their futures could be filled with hope and promise. I could make a difference for one. My friend could make a difference for another one. And on and on…until all of their futures are changed!  If all of us who live lives of privilege would reach out one hand to one child, imagine what we could do!  What would happen if we reached with both hands?  We look at those what are reaching and think that they are remarkable.  They are…because they are doing what I am not.  They have answered a call that is not just for them; it is a call that each of us has.  When we ignore the call, when we do nothing, and when we turn a blind eye, we allow the “orphan problem” to continue.

In Minnesota, Hennepin County has a great dissonance. It is a county with a high need for foster homes. It is also a county with some of the wealthiest people in the state. While small families live in large houses which sport dens, offices, and guest rooms, children wait for foster families at St Joseph’s Home for Children. We sleep comfortably in our three bedroom rambler where each of our two children have their own room. The children at St Joe’s weep in their bunk beds in dorm style rooms. Our children get a hug goodnight and prayers or a song to help them fall asleep.  The children at St Joe’s learn self-soothing mechanisms to counteract the cold, harsh reality of their situation.  We sleep well – content in our ignorance. They go to sleep hoping that tomorrow they will have a family. And this is in not some far away country – this is right here only a few miles from where I live!

November is National Adoption Month, but it is also a good time to think about orphan issues in general. Adoption is the finalizing of a forever family, but that is not the only way that we each can help orphans. Children need temporary shelter from storming families as well. Foster care, the care of children right here in our own city or county, is a great need.  This requires an ability to see oneself as part of the solution rather than the solution itself as one may find adoption seems. Sometimes parents need time to learn skills that they never learned because their own families were stormy. While they learn these skills and work a case plan, their children need a safe and loving place to grow.  This is a great ministry!

I get overwhelmed when I think about all of this. I am sad that I do not know how to do more. I am sad that I do not do more. I get caught up in my own selfish hopes and dreams. However, I know that doing what I could do to be a part of the solution would not require that much.  If today is not the day that my home is open to those who have none, then I need to find ways to assist those who do.  If I do not have what it takes to provide temporary shelter, then I need to find ways to support the ministry of those who do.  I do not mean that I should write more checks!  I mean that I need to take a meal, to listen as they share their frustrations with the system, and to just be ready to do anything they need.

Rather than being overwhelmed, however, I need to remember those that have reached out to orphans and be encouraged.  They are my friends.  They are my family. They are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job of living out the call to care for orphans.  And they are making a difference.  One child.  One family.  The problem is big…but the solution is as small as one person.  And another…and another…and another….and another…


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