Author: Paul Lehman

5 Books to Read with your Foster Child

As foster parents we don’t always have the answers to every question our foster child asks us. Sometimes we find ourselves lacking the ability to explain how this big, complicated, and messy process works.

The following five books were written to help foster parents answer the hard questions and tackle real issues foster children face in a way that is relatable and understandable.  Through the use of characters like Murphy the Dog or Barley the Bear, foster children are able to connect with a character in a book to help them better understand their situation and feelings.

 

  1. Maybe Days by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Wright

 

Will I live with my parents again? Will I stay with my foster parents forever? For children in foster care, the answer to many questions is often “maybe.” Maybe Days addresses the questions, feelings, and concerns these children often face. Honest and reassuring, it also provides basic information that children want and need to know, including the roles of various people in the foster care system and whom to ask for help.

*This book also includes an extensive afterword with a variety of ways to help children adjust to the “maybe days.”

 

  1. Murphy’s Three Homes by Jan Gilman

Being a pup in foster care is awfully confusing. What’s Murphy to do when he’s taken away from his family and placed in a new home, with new people, new pets, and…new EVERYTHING?!  As he moves from one house to another, Murphy begins to understand all his sad and angry feelings and finds ways to cope. Eventually he discovers what it means to be a “good luck” dog as he jumps and barks his way into a comfortable spot in his new home.

*This books comes with an extensive note to parents on how to help kids cope with the difficulties of being placed in multiple homes.

 

  1. I Don’t Have your Eyes by Carrie Kitze

 “I Don’t have your eyes…but I have your way of looking at things.” Thus begins this beautifully illustrated and uplifting book that explores the intimate parent/caregiver and child bond that is so important within a family. While others may notice the physical differences, there are so many ways we can celebrate the commonality that makes us truly family. We don’t look the same on the outside, but in our hearts, we are the same.

 

  1. I Love You So… by Marianne Richmond

I Love You So… puts into words the often indescribable quality of boundless, steady, and unconditional love. This comforting story embraces the reader like a warm hug and gently reassures a child that love is for always – despite grouchy moods or physical separation. It is the perfect pause in a hectic day, offering the gift of love to a treasured child.

 

  1. I Wished for You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond

 I Wished for You: An Adoption Story, follows a conversation between a little bear named Barley and his mama as they curl up in their favorite cuddle spot and talk about how they became a family. Barley asks Mama the kinds of questions many adopted children have, and Mama lovingly answers them all. With endearing prose and charming watercolor illustrations, I Wished for You: An Adoption Story, is a cozy read that affirms how love is what truly makes a family.

 

We hope these books and stories prove to be a great bonding time for you and your foster child as well as a helpful tool in understanding the world and emotions of foster care. Happy Reading!

Who are the kids in care?

This is the final entry in a 6-part series on foster parenting.  To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.

With over 21,000 children in the Arizona foster care system, it is important to stop and reflect on who these children are and what help they need.

Why are they in foster care?

The number one reason children come into care is neglect (85% based on the latest report).  This means lack of appropriate food, supervision, and shelter.  Children also come into care when they experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.  Often times children who come into care because of neglect later disclose that they have also been physically and or sexually abused.

How old are they?

The largest percentage of children in care are between the ages of 1 and 5 (approximately 33%) followed by the ages of 13-17 (21%).  When foster homes cannot be found for these children, they are placed in shelters and group homes.  In Arizona, approximately 1 out of every 5 children in state care live in a group facility.

How long do they stay in foster care?

Children can come into your home for as short as a few days and as long as a few years.  Many factors affect the amount of time in care, but 50% of the time their stay lasts between 1 and 12 months.  56% of children are eventually reunified with their parents.

What behaviors do I need to be prepared to parent?

Behavior is the language of children.  As such, children will display a wide range of behaviors such as tantrums to express frustration, hording to express fear of starvation, lying to express fear of abuse, and bed wetting from night terrors.  They need loving foster parents who will not personalize or shame them for these behaviors but rather hold their hand through the healing process. Foster parents need a good support team and behavior management skills in order to meet this challenge.  Behavior and behavior management are addressed at length during the 30 hours of pre-service training.

What resources are available?

Children come fully insured with Arizona’s comprehensive medical and dental program (CMDP).  CMDP covers a child’s need for dental, health, and behavioral care.  There are also many non-profit organizations ready to help with clothing, educational resources, and access to scholarships for extra-curricular activities.  Arizona also provides WIC services to children under five and the free lunch program to school aged children.  Children in state care also qualify for financial assistance in enrolling in day care or before and after school programs.

Godly, patient, and loving foster parents are needed to care for these precious children as they wait to re-unify with their birth families or to be placed in an adoptive home.  If you feel God might be calling you to this task, please consider attending an orientation to find out how!

Not ready to foster?  Here are five ways to help now!

arrow back

Click here to go back to the beginning of the 6-part series to learn the steps of how to become a foster parent and more.

This blog entry is part of a 6-part series on foster parenting.  To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.

Shared Parenting: Connecting Foster Families and Birth Families

This is the fifth entry in a 6-part series on foster parenting.  To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.

“Shared parenting” is a term that often shocks many prospective foster parents when they first hear it.  Essentially, shared parenting is the building of a positive alliance between foster parents and birth parents on behalf of children in foster care.  This can include simple acts such as passing along report cards, printing photos, or sharing updates.  It can also be more relational and include meeting for meals or play dates at the park.  It is important to note that foster parents will never be expected to put themselves in an unsafe or inappropriate situation.  Each case is unique and will be approached with an individualized plan.  Though it might seem daunting at first, shared parenting is a very important part of the foster care process.

Shared parenting helps birth parents do what they need to do to reunify with their children and allows children to remain connected to their birth families while they are in foster care.  It is a common belief, and misconception, that most foster children do not return home to their families.  Consider the following statistics from the latest available 6 month period:

Number of foster children leaving DCS custody by reunifying with their parents: 3,102
Number of foster children leaving DCS custody by being adopted: 1,576
Percentage of foster children with a case plan of reunifying with their parents: 55%
Percentage of foster children with a case plan of adoption: 20%

A majority of foster children actually return home to live with their biological families.  This means that foster parents do their best to help support and teach biological families while their child (or children) live with them.

How does it work?

Shared parenting will look different based on the specifics of each case, and will be determined by an assessment of safety issues.  At a minimum, foster parents are expected to support the positive aspects of the biological parents, and will be expected to refrain from berating the birth parents in front of the child.  This level of shared parenting could be as simple as telling a child that they have beautiful eyes like their mother, or sending a note to the birth parents to let them know how their child is doing.  In a best case scenario, you could build a strong relationship with the birth family and include them in holiday celebrations or even a weekly family dinner.

Is this really a good thing?

YES!  Absolutely.  Foster children will come into your home with strong attachments to their birth families, and it is important for foster children to retain appropriate contact with their relatives (unless their case plan requires no contact of any kind).  Children in care are comforted, and more easily attach, when they see biological and foster families working together.

As Christians, this is a very special opportunity.  Foster parenting is not only a ministry to children but also to families as a whole.  Developing relationships with birth families provides the opportunity to share the gospel, model healthy parenting, and effect change in the lives of a child’s family.  We would do best to take advantage of this special opportunity.

“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Col 4:5).

To find out more about becoming a licensed foster parent, visit our licensing page today.

Source: http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/99/docs/SemiAnnual-Child-Welfare-Reporting-Requirements-4-15-9-15_FINAL-Revised.pdf

Next part

Click here to view the next part of this series which will explore the types of children that are in foster care and how we need to approach parenting a foster child.

This blog entry is part of a 6-part series on foster parenting.  To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.

The Ministry of Foster Care

This is the fourth entry in a 6-part series on foster parenting. To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.


The bruises and sores are finally starting to heal.”

It was prayer request time at our small group.  And the report wasn’t on someone who was recovering from a car accident.  She was describing two young children in the foster care system.

When children are removed from their homes by DCS, they carry many burdens.  They have often been subject to neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse.  Instead of being nurtured and cherished by their caregivers, they have been sinned against.  This has a drastic effect on the psyche and spirit of these children, and more than anything, they need healing.  These children need healing for their broken relationships, healing for their broken bodies, and most importantly, healing for their spirits through the gospel.

“And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, who were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them” – Luke 5:17

The power of our Lord knows no bounds.  He is capable of healing any child, no matter how badly they have been abused.  They can be healed of the burden from their past abuse, and also from the unrelated burden of their own sin.  This spiritual healing comes through the gospel and the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit.  As Christian foster parents, we have a unique opportunity to share the facts of the gospel, and to model the fruit of the Spirit for children in our care.  Whether we have them for a couple days, or adopt them and have them for the rest of our lives, we have the great privilege of sharing the message of the gospel with children who have probably never heard it before.

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” – Romans 10:14

There are many secular foster homes that can monitor and facilitate the care of children.  There are many secular foster homes that can provide a safe place for bruises and broken bones to heal.  But as Christians, we alone can offer the power of the gospel.  We can provide something infinitely greater.  The question is, will we?

To find out how you can be involved please visit our FAQ page and contact us today.

“Jesus bears with him power to heal; this is His honour and renown.  He has the eagle’s eye to see our sicknesses, the lion’s heart bravely to encounter them, and the nurse’s hand gently to apply the heavenly ointment; in Him the three requirements of a good surgeon meet in perfection” – Charles Spurgeon

Next part

Click here to view the next part of this series which will explore the topic of shared parenting.

This blog entry is part of a 6-part series on foster parenting.  To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.

What is a biblical model for approaching foster care?

When Arizona Faith and Families was founded, the following slogan was chosen: “A biblical model for foster care and adoption.”

So what does this biblical foundation look like?

Highlighted below are four key points:

  1. The Bible is the ultimate source of truth for foster/adoptive parents. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16, NASB).  Scripture is what equips us for the good work that God has called us to do, and it must be central to the training of foster and adoptive parents.
  2. The Bible teaches us to pray. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).  Christians must pray to seek God’s will, and our agency is committed to regular prayer for parents who partner with us.  These prayers are for the purpose of our parents to clearly see God’s will in their lives, for us to accurately identify and understand what each family is equipped to handle, and to ask God to grant each of us wisdom through the process.
  3. The Bible has much to say about parenting. “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps 19:7, NASB).  The children you bring into your home will need restoration.  They will need a place to feel safe and heal.  Christians are uniquely equipped to provide this environment.  These children will also display behaviors that surprise, disrupt, and change your family environment.  We can count on the Bible to give us the wisdom we need to parent during these tough circumstances.
  4. Finally, the Bible teaches us the power of community. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov 27:17, NASB).  Being a foster parent should not be done in isolation.  It needs to be done in community.  In most cases this community includes not only your personal family supports, but also the biological family of the children in care.

Our staff can personally attest that foster parenting is tough!  However, as Christians we have been given the tools that we need to face these challenges head on while bringing glory to our God and Savior.  Arizona Faith and Families is committed to helping our families feel empowered, equipped, and supported as they navigate this process.  Please contact us or visit our FAQ page to find out more.