Tag: fostercare

Foster Care: A Sibling Story

“He has your eyes…”

We are sitting in a hospital room.  Our daughter has just given birth to our first grandchild and her biological and adopted siblings are gathered about.  Each taking a turn holding and admiring the newest addition to our family.

It was a traditional scene.  One where the family will “ooh” and “aww” over the beautiful life that has just entered the world.  But a certain comment took my breath away.

“He has your eyes Jose.”

Uncle Jose, only 14, looked up with pride.  It was an important moment.  Because in adoption, you don’t always get to see another who has your eyes.  A small symbol that provides a silent and powerful connection.

Our family is a patch quilt of sorts.  My husband and I have two daughters adopted from foster care.  They have a biological sister and brother adopted by my parents.  It’s a complicated little family that doesn’t make sense on paper and confuses most people who meet us.   But it’s our family.  And when those four children entered our lives, we knew they all needed to stay together.

And here we are ten years later in a delivery room and I am again struck by the power of the sibling bond. And so grateful that they could experience this miracle together.  That they could all take a turn holding the next generation of their family, of our family, and see tangibly the power of that sibling connection.

We are all woven together now, they and us.  Biology doesn’t define our family; the love and commitment knit throughout that hospital room is what makes our family.  But I don’t deny the power of biology – the miracle that is witnessed when you hold another and see your own eyes looking back.

Everyday siblings in foster care are separated because there are not enough families to keep them together.  And when that separation turns into permanency, these children will inevitably be denied the basic privileges and experiences that siblings deserve and need.  From the big moments like births and weddings to the small moments like raiding your sister’s closet or playing with your brother after school.

It’s hard work taking in a sibling group.  Helping each individual child heal and work through their trauma while also caring for multiple children with multiple needs.  But can I tell you something?  It’s worth it.

“He has your eyes Jose.”

Interested in knowing what it takes to be a part of this amazing work?  Check out our orientation page and get started today!

Arizona Faith and Families was founded by Paul and Nikki Lehman.  Paul and Nikki started their family by adopting two teenage girls from foster care.  They are now the proud parents to five children and one grandchild and work to equip others toward successful foster care and adoption. 

Separating Siblings

Today I received six different emails requesting foster homes for sibling groups.  Today I had to reply that I did not have any foster families available who could take in these siblings.  May I share this with you?

6 year old boy, 1 year old girl

3 year old boy, 1 year old boy, 2 year old boy

7 month old girl, 2 year old girl, 4 year old girl, 7 year old boy

Newborn girl, 3 year old boy, 1 year old boy

8 year old boy, 12 year old girl

8 year old girl, 9 year old boy, 11 year old girl, 13 year old girl

This was just yesterday.  Every day our office receives dozens of emails requesting foster homes for sibling groups, a surprisingly difficult population to place.

This is because sibling groups range in age and size.  While a new foster family might feel equipped and prepared to parent a 5 year old, not too many feel equipped and prepared to parent a 5, 7, and 10 year old.  And that’s ok, because it is no easy task!

But what happens when foster homes aren’t available for these sibling groups?  They are forced to be separated; often times into multiple homes or into group home settings.   Today they will not only experience the loss of their home and parents, but will also be torn from their siblings.

This is a tragedy.  Praise God we no longer have children sleeping in DCS offices (remember 20015??).  But the work is not done.  Arizona has nearly 200% more homes than it needs for children ages 0-2 but falls far short of what we need for children over age 7 and especially for children who are a part of a sibling group.  You can view the statistics on the DCS website.

Arizona needs foster parents.  Foster parents who are willing to step out in faith, possibly have a very hard 12 – 18 months of parenting multiple children with multiple traumas, and stick around long enough to inspire others.  This is hard.  It requires people with real grit.  It takes people who are teachable and who are willing to be flexible.  Foster parents who have space, the time, and the ability to transport multiple children.  Foster parents who have a strong support system for when things get tough (or are willing to build one).  Foster parents who understand our calling as Christians to care for the orphan and who are willing to follow this command despite how uncomfortable it may be.

This is a good work.  I would argue some of the best work that can be done.  But it is hard work.  Are you willing to work alongside us?  We’ve been there, done that and we want to give you the tools to do it too.  Check out our orientation page and get started today!

 

Arizona Faith and Families was founded by Paul and Nikki Lehman.  Paul and Nikki started their family by adopting two teenage girls from foster care.  They are now the proud parents to five children and one grandchild and work to equip others toward successful foster care and adoption. 

Saying Goodbye and other reasons we foster

This is the second 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.

Do you want to know the number one reason people tell us they can’t consider fostering children?  It’s not lack of space, time, money, or ability.  It’s not lack of care, concern, or information.  While those might be valid reasons, the number one reason people tell us they cannot foster is because they don’t believe they could say goodbye.  They believe they do not have the capacity to love, bond, and attach with a child they may not get to keep.

Saying goodbye is tough. What would be worse?  Never saying hello.

I have mothered many children over the past ten years.  Only four claim me on their birth certificate.  I’ve said goodbye to more pieces of my heart than I can count.  And I wouldn’t demand a single piece of it back.  Not one single time did I wish I hadn’t said hello, fallen in love, and bonded with a child I didn’t get to keep.  Not once, not even for a moment.

If saying goodbye isn’t hard, you’re doing something wrong.

We don’t become parents because we want a child to love us.  We become parents because we have love to give.  There is no one more deserving of this love than a child in foster care.

We don’t bond and attach with our children because we need to boost our own confidence.  We bond and attach with our children because they need to understand healthy relationships, experience care, and grow as individuals.  There is no one more deserving of strong bonds and attachment than a child in foster care.

We become so paralyzed with the end of the story, we don’t realize all the amazing chapters in between.  There are many reasons not to become a foster parent.  I promise you, saying goodbye is not one of them.  The difficulty of goodbyes means you have experienced a phenomenal journey that takes place after saying hello.

This is not a break up, this is a gift.

Love and attachment will cost you.  It will cost your pieces of your heart.  But does not our God promise to meet all our needs in Christ Jesus our Lord?  Does He who has called us to care for such as these leave us empty when we obey this command?  Absolutely not!  He is faithful.  And He will refill the Christian who dares to travel the beautifully broken journey of goodbye.

Luke 9:47-48

But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side,  and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”

Next part

Click here to view the next part of this series which will explore the topic of home inspections.

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.