Monday, January 28, 2008


OK so, sometimes I think of something so simple and brilliant that I can't believe it's taken me 36 months or 36 years to think of. Of course this concerns my babies, but I haven't been dwelling on it lately. I haven't brainstormed my options, I've even stopped bugging God about it. I know He'll do it when He wants it done. So I was literally just getting ready for bed, wondering if I'd taken my allergy medicine and Ah HA.

It's a cop out excusing my thoughtlessness on God. Not in a bad way, but the way he doesn't open your eyes until just the right time so that it is so simple and brilliant that it can only be from God.

I have no doubt in my mind that the children who are in my home sleeping soundly right now are my children. I believe with all my heart that they will be with me forever. What I don't believe is that this journey has been so long. The VERY FIRST QUESTION that was asked in our foster parent training is.... could we ever get a baby, have it for three years and still not be able to adopt it? NO. NEVER. Wouldn't happen. Well, it's happening times six right now. So why God why?

I keep trying to imagine my life without the journey. Had someone handed me one baby five years ago, had the baby adopted in eight months and out of fostering forever, how does my life look. Probably not much different than it did five years ago. Except five years older. This journey has forced me to grow. It has forced me to look at the other side of this coin. It forces me to examine where I am, where I am going and what I have control over. The answer to the latter is only me. I cannot change the system today. I cannot compel the court, or CPS or anyone to make a decision. I can only control what I do.

Tomorrow during my monthly trek to Laredo, I'm going to ask for mediation. It will save another trial, maybe they'll go for it. It's so chic right now.

I don't want Mama to be a "victim" of this whole process. Yes she does not make the best choices with her life, but given her circumstances can't we all understand? I do not want our kids to grow up idealizing Mama, I want them to know her. When she does something that disappoints them I want them to experience it in real time. I don't want to dump all this information on them in twenty years. I am also praying that they can experience a life that is truly transformed. I want them to see their Mama turn her life around. I want their Mama to throw herself at the feet of Jesus and be free from the life that herself and her family have built. I want my kids to know that there is no place you can go that God can't find you when you call to Him. I also want them to no that there are just some places you are better off not going.

I'm hoping that the people who are holding this up, probably her family and her attorney who has to be making some large change from this, will at least meet with us. I'm hoping that they know that I truly honor this woman as the mother of my children. I'm hoping that they will do the same for me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Divine Appointments

I had plans for today, and they were noble plans, but through a variety of circumstances I was unable to go ahead with my plans. I had intended to attend the TPR (termination of parental rights) hearing with one of our B.O.T.H. families. Busy conflicting schedules prevented me from making that hearing, I could have made it work but it would have been putting my fourth choice ahead of my third choice. You know...
1. God
2. Hubby
3. Family
4. Ministry

I could have easily justified the nobility of my ministry, I believe it to be a noble cause, but it is not my highest calling. That is why I made the priority list, so that I can be in charge of my schedule, not the other way around.

Having a cleared schedule allowed me to do something for myself. It was not noble, it was purely something that I wanted and now had the time to do it. I could have rushed around and rearranged my schedule to be able to attend to my plans, but would have missed a divine appointment.

My appointment today just happened to be with a woman who goes to my church, who is interested in possibly starting a women's ministry group, but was afraid that her ideas seemed dumb or vain. But as she said the words out loud, she realized that her ideas were not dumb or vain, and that she might be able to lend her expertise to the women in our community. To top it off God has been nudging her towards adoption, every time she turns around she is seeing something or hearing something, or meeting someone who reminds her that adoption is an option.

The good news is that the TPR went through and there are some kids who are now available to be adopted by their foster families. The bad news is that there is a mother who lost her children. Please remember them all in your prayers. Regardless of her choices that led a judge to terminate her rights, she did choose life for them and she deserves our respect for that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Two Degrees of Oprah Winfrey

Anyone who hasn't been living in a cave has heard of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon". Everybody in the world knows Kevin Bacon through no more than six people. I am three degrees away from him. This past week Oprah inserted herself into the case of our foster family by contacting the foster father of our babies oldest brother. I guess her and I are now a two.

At first I was excited, maybe Oprah could do something that caseworkers and attorneys and I haven't been able to do. I've been struggling with this over the past couple of days. If Oprah is able to move the process along and get the state to follow their own laws regarding time in care, would she get the credit. Would I forever tell everyone that because of Oprah I was able to adopt my children? I've been hesitant to hope for it because it is all God's timing. On the other hand, could she be an instrument that causes change. Is she the instrument that will shine the light on kids getting stuck in foster care? When I've discussed this with people they are most excited that Oprah is now involved. These are good Christian people, why are they more excited by what Oprah can do than by what God can do?

I keep playing the song in my head by Casting Crowns. What if His people prayed. "What if families turned to Jesus and stopped asking Oprah what to do." Is Oprah more powerful than God in America? She gets better press that's for sure. Can someone who doesn't openly and often acknowledge God be used by Him to complete his purposes? Am I willing to hope for her help and give Him the credit? I know that should this case have the light of Oprah shone upon it, the Born of the Heart organization will go from 300 hits a month to 300 hits an hour. I'd better have my act together by then. I started Born of the Heart to help foster families, I started it to help as many as I could. Did I imagine it going Oprah big? No. I have given it to God though and apparently it is going places I never imagined.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I went to the Dentist for a broken foot

One thing I've learned in my time as a foster parent is that all of the people you have to deal with have very distinct roles in the system. Should you go to the wrong person for the wrong situation, it could be like going to a dentist for a broken foot. This happened recently to a B.O.T.H. family that we've met through our group.

I haven't know these people long, nor do I know them well. I do know they've been married for 15 plus years, they've gone to our church for several years, they've served in our church several years, and Mr. seems to have had the same job for several years. Not so much judging a book by its cover, but stability says a lot about people and I have no reason to believe that they aren't getting up each and every day and doing the best they can do for that day.

Several months ago the family had a situation, not knowing how to deal with it they went to their agency. I have no knowledge of this agency, but the ones that I have dealt with all say the same thing...."if you ever need anything...." Well, this family needed something, they went to their agency and said, "we need something" and their agency turned their life upside down. A simple request for respite turned into four months of having their B.O.T.H. baby living in another home. Their were allegations made but never investigated. Their baby is home now, but it has been a nightmare for them.

What I've gathered from talking to this family is they needed a break, and a lot of times what happens is we wait too long to take a break, we wait until we've reached a breaking point and we relinquish our control. They should have been able to trust that their agency would have their back, the sad truth of the matter is the agency is too busy covering their own back to have had the back of this family. Agencies in general have a tremendous case load. They want autonomous families, if your family blips on their radar one too many times they will make a change. They only want from you what their licensing agency needs from them. They only want to give you what their licensing agency requires them to provide. Should this be the case, absolutely not, but it is in my opinion the way it is.

The caseworker that I've had for over four years, recently stopped being a caseworker. She and I had become friends over the years, but there were still things that I didn't share with her. It's not that I don't trust her, but when push comes to shove, whose back is more important to her? Same with me, if it had come to the point where it was a choice between our friendship and my family, she's the one who'd have gone under the proverbial bus.

My husband and I live our lives very differently than we did five years ago when we started our fostering journey. We take breaks often, and happily. I originally thought it would kill me to leave the kids scattered all over town for the weekend. It hasn't. I also thought we couldn't afford it, but what really is the price of rest and relaxation?

I am strictly name, rank and serial number when it comes to dealing with my agency now that my caseworker is gone. I turn in my paperwork, I allow them their two visits per month, I call after an emergency. I do not let them pick respite providers for me. Nor do I have to. Respite rules clearly state that I can make an arrangement with a friend to provide respite for me. Texas code 745.117(6) states that the following is exempt from regulation....8) Arrangement Between Friends (A) It is an arrangement between friends for temporary residential child care for one child or a sibling group; and
(B) The care does not exceed 40 continuous days or 150 days in a calendar year. there.

I chose my respite provider. She is my friend, she loves my children, but does not see them as foster children who could one day be hers. She knows that they are mine. She reaffirms to them while I am gone that they belong to me. this may seem a no brainer, but if you didn't know that my kids have been my kids for three years and we would adopt them immediately if given the chance, you would want to snatch them up and keep them, they are that cute. By me picking who has my children, I pick the problems I'm going to have when I get home.

It may seem like I'm saying that this B.O.T.H. family did something wrong, I am not. They did what they thought was right. They went to the people who should have the most interest in making sure they were being taken care of.

So my recommendations for all B.O.T.H. families, this does not apply to foster only families, of who should deal with what is...

Fostering agency should only deal with aspects relating directly to licensing requirements. Making sure your requirements are up to date, and keeping your license current.

Counselors should deal with any and all problems. The agency should not have permission to speak with your counselor. If they choose to launch an investigation against you they can subpoena your records, but never give them access. Make sure you have a counselor who is gutsy enough to tell you when to throw in the towel. There may come a time when it is not recommended that you continue fostering, at that point you can simply withdraw your own license, there need not be an explanation. Remember anything you say can be used against you.

Use respite!!!!! Take respite from your kids, from your spouse, from your house. Take a break before you need it. Pick your own respite provider, if you are in Texas and your agency tries to bully you into one of theirs cite Texas code 745.117 (6) 8. They are only trying to cover their hineys and if you do it for them they'll be ok. They might not be happy, but they will be ok.

Remember, most people within the system do not care about your kid or your family. They only care about getting home to theirs. If your problems or situations prevent this, they will move the kid and not think twice about it.