The Cost of Fostering & Adoption … (Part 2)

Okay, Part 2.  In Part 1 I focused on the actual dollar amounts of international and private domestic adoption and how these were so limiting to us that they led us to adoption through foster parenting.  In Part 2 I’ll let you in on a secret.  Little did we know, the ‘cost’ of this path would be our hearts breaking for people that we so badly wanted to know the changing love of Jesus.  On our path we learned some other things about fostering. I hope it helps you …

If you go into your local foster system with the intent of only adoption and not fostering first, you could be in for a long wait.  All children in foster care have been affected by an unfortunate situation.  Some more so than others.  But with the love of a stable home, a knowledgable, professional team and the guiding hand of God, you will be surprised how a child (and you as a parent) will succeed through those situations.

Yes, there are children all across the U.S that are available for adoption and in need of a home right now.  AdoptUSKids is a great place to start especially if you have a home study completed.  Many of these children have special needs or have requests that they will remain the youngest child in the family.  Since our family already had a child with special needs that whatever his age would always be ‘the youngest’ in cognitive age and in physical need we didn’t think the children on this site would be best placed with our family. 

So into the foster parent world we jumped … or at least waded into the baby pool of foster parenting:  Respite Care.  It’s kindof like overnight babysitting for other foster parents. Occasionally foster families need to do things out of their state; funerals or weddings, that their foster children don’t have permission to attend.  Leaving their home state can sometimes be tricky and need a judge’s approval.  To please everyone another foster family can care for the child during this period.  It’s usually just a few days or a weekend.  This is actually my advice as a great place to start for anyone with biological children.  If you aren’t sure what child or sibling group would be best for your family respite care gives you a way to have children spend time with your family.  It really helped us narrow down an age group that was the right fit for our family.  This also gave us opportunities with our children and extended family and friends to open up the foster family dialogue.  With our children those talks could get really personal.  With the others it was a chance to let everyone know we were serious.  Yes, this was actually happening.

Now let me speak to the women, the wives, the mom’s out there.  Ladies, God gave us husbands for oodles of reasons.  Yes, sometimes they think they are “God’s gift to women”, but when it comes to being a foster parent, let your husband be the brakes.  Once you are an official foster parent the phone will start ringing immediately.  It will not stop ringing with available children.  There is a desperate need for good foster homes.  Our mothering hearts will break for every single child that needs a mother and a good, safe home.  Mine did and still does.  Every day.  If I did not tell the social worker I had to first check with my husband I would have said yes to every one of them and I would have at least ten children in my home right now.  Ugh.  Keep in mind, the child will have weekly meetings with their biological family that you will have to take them to and possibly stay with them during those meetings, also courts dates, meetings with lawyers and social workers, appointments with therapists and doctors and this is in addition to their typical childhood stuff that you will want to give them like school and church activities, and a semi-normal family life at the same time.  My husband knew when a child was not a good fit for our family.  He listened with his head, not his heart.  Rely on the wisdom God is giving him however much it hurts to say no.

The other difficult piece of fostering is this:  The first goal is almost always for the child to be reunited with the biological parents or a kinship placement, such as a grandparent.  I can almost hear your thoughts from here.  “Whaat?!  No one told us this!”  You’re thinking that brings your adoption chances waaaay down, doesn’t it?  No.  That brings your reliance on God’s plan waaaay up.  This is not always the end result.  You just have to look at our family to know the first plan isn’t always the last plan.  But remember, you are not entering the foster parent world for your benefit.  You will be involved with a team of people that is trying to do what is best for the child.  I cannot count the number of times I have been asked “What if you have to send a child back to an unhealthy situation?”.  No, it’s not easy.  You may only have a moment in a child’s life to give the love to them that Jesus freely gives to everyone.  And I will tell you even as an Emergency Placement Foster Parent, sending a child to another perfectly wonderful foster family is also one of the most difficult things.  

Foster parenting is not easy.  It’s not without tears.  It will cost you a huge piece of your heart.  But I think we all know, the things that are worth the most in life usually cost the most.


The Cost of Fostering & Adoption … (Part 1)

Lately, I’ve been getting more and more questions about our experience as foster and adoptive parents.  Some are searching for God’s plan for their own family in foster parenting and adoption.  Some are just wanting to get involved in supporting others.  So I thought I would lay out some of the questions I’ve fielded and the answers as I can best give them.  Part Two of this blog post will be the bigger, more detailed part of our journey.  But I thought I would let you in on where we started …  

I thought I would start at the beginning of our adoption quest.  Or maybe I should call it something better, like God’s Great Master Plan.  Whatever you want to call it … my husband and I knew before we were ever married that adoption was something we wanted to be a part of our family.  Back in the day we had the high hopes of adopting from China. So when God began laying the adoption foundation that’s where I started the search.  Our Chinese adoption hopes were quickly crushed when I first came across the cost of international adoption.  This can run an average of $30,000.  But some agencies will quote as high as $45,000.  The child’s birth country is a big factor is this cost.  As are the travel expenses.  The second crushing blow came by way of the time that can be involved spent in the adopting country.  Some adoptive parents are there for a month at a time waiting on the courts.  This can go on for several years.  Some people save and prepare their entire lives for this moment.  We had not done either.  And if you know anything about our family, this time involvement was a real deal breaker. (As if the cost wasn’t enough already!)  We knew this was not God’s plan for us.  If you are interested in foreign adoption and are well prepared for this road, the Show Hope organization is a great resource.  They will help with direction, fundraising and grant assistance, just to name a few things.

Next, I looked at private domestic adoption.  Once again, this was just too cost prohibitive for our family.  Many agencies will tell you their fees upfront.  They average in the $10,000 range.  But you will need your own adoption lawyer and those fees are additional.  The hope of being ‘chosen’ can be a roller coaster ride. (But most adoption stories are emotional rides!)  Sometimes the birth mother will require the adoptive parents also pay her lawyer fees and/or medical fees as well.  You can see where I’m headed with this in your mental calculator.  Cost prohibitive.  If this is an option for you, The Missouri Baptist Children’s Home and Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri are excellent options.  If you are in need of a private adoption lawyer, I would be glad to send you to the practice who gave us excellent advice in Missouri.

When these were ruled out we were led to adoption through our state’s foster system.  Admittedly, this scared the jeebers outa us.   But we knew financially this would be much more doable.  What we didn’t know … it would ‘cost’ us much more of our hearts than we ever expected.    But that’s always how God does things, isn’t it?  The music group Switchfoot says in one of my favorite songs, “Why ya’ fearin’ watcha’ believin’?… Love alone is worth the fight.” (Feel free to have a little chuckle at me singing along with that with my opera-style trained voice.)

Part Two in ‘The Cost of Fostering & Adoption’ will focus on our family’s adventure into our state’s foster system.  Little did we know, it was obviously a plan God had for us all along.  I’ll fill you in on a few of the details of the system and the things that worked best for our family.  I hope they will help you on your way to finding your path to orphan care or support… 

They have no idea …

There are nights after my husband and I get the boys into bed we look at each other and one of us will say, “They have no idea what we go through.”  We are usually referring to something that occurred regarding disability or a medical need.  And it usually includes something pretty harrowing or disgusting for the average household.  (Or both, more on that later.)  But in our house, it’s the norm.

During one of my late night blog writing sessions I couldn’t sleep I was having a little pity party about no one knowing what we go through.  But the more I thought about it I realized that maybe no one knows what we go through but I have no idea what they go through either.

  My sister has always been waaaay smarter than me.  She is not just smarter than me, she is smarter than most people.  She works in a field that few can pronounce let alone understand.  I often have people ask me, “What is it again your sister does?”  What must it be like to deal with things that are so far above the average population, or below average in my case? (Don’t argue, GPA’s don’t lie.)  It makes it difficult to talk to others about what she deals with during the day if no one can even understand what she does, I would guess.  I have no idea what she goes through.

My brother is a pastor.  He carries the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of so many people on his heart and mind.  He is bound by a promise to these people and God to keep these very private needs to himself.  I have no idea what he goes through.  And on a lighter note … he minored in English in college.  Every time one of my blogs comes out he has the burden of reading it and knowing in his highly educated brain that I have absolutely no idea WHERE THE COMMAS GO!!  Yet, he keeps this burden to himself each time.  I have no idea what he goes through.

I sat in church last week, looked around at people I sit with every week and and thought  again, they have no idea what we go through.  There isn’t anyone that knows when we get puked on five nights in a row because this is how my youngest deals with EVERYTHING.  Puking.  (More details to come).  Or when we’ve been up checking blood sugar several times a night for nights on end.  Or the Target incident.  (Wait for it.)   I started looking at my fellow church members and wondered if they have the same thoughts.  The people who come without spouses … Those few public school boys are dealing with very difficult temptations; drinking, drugs, porn … The older lady sitting next to me who has slept through most of the service … I have no idea what any of them are truly going through.

“The Target Incident” as it will forever be referred to in our house … Target.  It is almost the only place on the planet we ever go as a family.  Shopping, Friday night entertainment, it is it.  And by Friday night entertainment, what I mean is WE ARE THE ENTERTAINMENT!  On this particular Friday night my boys were having a grand ole’ time together, which is kindof new and exciting.  I’ll skip to the fun … our youngest is puking (refer to above paragraph about his puke response to everything), I mean more puke than I knew could be in his tiny body puking, all over him and me and the floor.  Evan, our man/boy with intellectual disabilities, thinks this is somehow his fault.  No matter how hard we try we cannot make him understand he had nothing to do with it and everything is okay.  He starts crying and it leads to his violent meltdown.  Here we go again … and I’m still in a heap of puke.  Yep, the entertainment.  Did I mention we were in the farthest location in the store from any exit?  That’s always how it is, am I right?  I make may way to the front carrying the 4year old to tell them “Bio Hazard Clean up in aisle 599“.  Both of us covered and dripping in puke.  So many stares.  Meanwhile, my husband is dealing with his own kind of “Come to Jesus” moment as he tries to find someone to get him out a back exit while he is being bloodied, pinched, bit, and beat to a pulp.  And praying they don’t break any $5000.00 TVs on the way out either because this is the way the naive, young girl led them out the only back exit.  (Really, Target?  Only one rear exit?  Sounds fire hazard-ish.)  So no, there are very few people on the planet who have any idea what we go through.

But thankfully, for you and for me, there is a God that knows exactly what each one of us is going through.  He was also beaten and bloodied.  His beat down was so much worse than what my husband and I go through during a special needs violent rage.  And it was because of my sin.  When my son has a meltdown one of the things I think of is Christ’s words upon the cross, “Father, forgive them.  For they do not know what they are doing.”  My son has no idea what he is doing or how to stop himself.  We have to wait for it to subside.  How often does God wait for me, I wonder?  

And I am so thankful that I know a God who does know exactly what you and I are going through. 

Bible Verse I’m Loving Today:
Lamentations 3:22

Who Am I???

Recently I was asked to write something about myself.  A “Bio”.  My first thought was, “What the heck’s a bio?”  After I decided a bio was a few sentences about myself and what it is I do in life, I thought, “Just what is it I do?”  Pretty much I wipe a couple butts, test blood sugar multiple times so many times and give insulin shots all day.  But I didn’t think anyone really wanted to hear about that.  (HA! Too bad for everyone reading this!)  We all know I can’t cook to save my life, so making meals isn’t something I do.  I only clean the house when absolutely necessary.  Because who likes to clean?  You know who you are.  So why is it I barely sit down all day long but I can’t list a single thing that I actually do?  

Who am I????  

I’ve been here before.  I’ve mentioned it in previous blogs.  When I look to do things other than being a mom … “Who am I?”  When I start to believe the lies from my past … “Who am I?”  When I listen to the lies of this world regarding so many things – how I should look, the college degree I should have pursued, the weight I should lose … “Who am I?”

I told my husband it scared me to write a bio for these people because everyone associated with this organization is “Real People”.  He, of course, looked at me like I just jumped off the wacko wagon it happens often and said, “You are “Real People”.  I tuned him out.  But later that same day a friend said she liked talking to me, “because you are REAL”.  Whaaat?  I heard it this time.  Now I don’t know exactly what I meant by saying other people were real people and I wasn’t.  But now I had been justified as “Real” by two people as well.  Whatever it means.  I’m now it.  And it made me feel a little bit better.

All of this got me thinking about how none of THIS really matters.  What truly matters?  Who I am in Christ.  And what do I need to do to be someone in Christ? Absolutely nothing.  It has already been done.  I am already justified in Christ.  My bio in Christ reads: 

Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I am a child of God.

I can’t do anything more to add to that bio to make it better.  The band MercyMe has a new song called Greater.  I’m pretty sure they wrote this song about me.  In it the song says, “Bring your doubts, bring your fears … there’ll be no condemnation here … You are holy, righteous and redeemed.”  Yep, I needed to hear that.  On repeat.  The people in the organization that have well-written books and hard-earned degrees, their bio in Christ reads:

Jesus died on the cross for my sins.  I am a child of God.

The women who are more knowledgeable than I am, or who have jobs with lots of earthly glory (the ones who aren’t wiping butts all day and checking blood sugar all night) … whatever the lies of this world are on whatever given day – It will never change what Jesus has already done on the cross for those that believe in him.  Jesus is our great equalizer.  We all need him on on our Bio.  He is the only thing we need on it.

And that is Who I am.

Bible Verse I’m Loving Today:
Romans 3:24
Song I’m Loving Today:
Greater by Mercy Me