This is quite possibly my most exciting blog post yet! I get to talk about several of my favorite things all at once: shopping, adoption, and helping others!
For those of you that are new to my site, WELCOME! This little corner of the internet is where I talk about the messy world of parenting littles, the uncertainty that comes with life as a military family, the unpredictability of foster care, and how I search for God's grace in the ashes of my life.
But this particular post isn't really about any of those things, it's about a group of people that have been placed on my heart in recent weeks: Families pursuing adoption.
As a foster mom, I share many of the same emotions and struggles that adoptive families face, but one part of the private adoption journey seems overwhelming to me: the financial piece. I am often dumbfounded by the way these families unwaveringly and meticulously save for private adoptions over months (and even years!) to bring a baby home, and I want to help - will you join me?
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A couple months ago, I totally stalked a woman in the grocery store. I remembered her from a vendor fair, and I knew there was a 1000% chance she would NOT remember me. Being the extremely socially awkward person that I am, I stopped her right in front of some canned soups and said, "Hi! Aren't you a Noonday Ambassador?"
Good news: She didn't run away from me. Better news: She was able to help my hubby acquire some gorgeous Christmas gifts for Yours Truly! Best News: We are now working together to bless a family that is actively pursuing adoption.
First off, have you heard of the Noonday Collection? If not, click HERE immediately and check out ALL THE THINGS! Don't you want every single piece? The best part of Noonday, however, is not the gorgeous jewelry and accessories, but rather their mission as a company. According to their website, "We partner with talented artisan entrepreneurs to make a difference in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. By developing artisan businesses through fair trade, we empower them to grow sustainably and to create dignified jobs for people who need them. Together we’re building a flourishing world where children are cherished, women are empowered, people have jobs and we are connected."
*Noonday drops the mic"
Cherish the babes? Empower the women? Give people jobs? Yes, ma'am, I'm in!
Noonday was essentially founded as an adoption fundraiser, and they still support private adoptions by donating 10% of all Adoption Trunk Show sales to subsidize the financial burden. As Jill (My Noonday Ambassador friend) and I were chatting about ways we could work together, I had a ridiculous idea: What if I give away an Adoption Fundraiser on my blog? Seemed crazy, but after much prayer and discussion, we've decided we are going to give it a shot. So here's how it's gonna go down:
So what can you do to help?
If you have any questions about the giveaway, feel free to email me!
Thanks for joining forces to help a precious family bring their baby home!
This is the fifth and final post in a series, "Foster Care? I could never do that". Click here for the previous post.
I grew up believing a lot of stereotypes. I believed silly stereotypes like all boys were left-handed and all girls were right-handed, because this theory held true in my own nuclear family. But I also believed extremely insensitive stereotypes like all homeless people were lazy and addicted, because my limited experience with the homeless community reinforced that belief.
I guess most kids probably hold on to some stereotypes because they help us to categorize information – especially before we are able to think abstractly. But over time, these ingrained beliefs about people begin to weed away at our ability to care for each other.
Stereotypes are hard to fight, and if I’m being honest, I’d rather not enter the ring. It’s so much easier to disengage, avoid, and not draw attention to the ugliness that dwells within these hurtful generalizations. As soon as I feel like I’ve fully confronted one stereotype in my core, I am made aware of another misconception that I hold.
For example, when we first considered foster care, I believed that two types of families chose to foster: low-income families who needed the money and saintly, precious, ultraconservative families who homeschooled. I’m not sure where this ridiculous generalization stemmed from, but it was well enough ingrained, that I had a hard time figuring out how we would break that imaginary mold.
I was frustrated with the news stories that would show low-income foster families providing inadequate care to the six foster children in the home, all the while receiving thousands of dollars in living stipends. I felt comfortable breaking this stereotype because I knew we wouldn’t be tempted by the money, but I also knew that we are not any where near saintly, and I struggle with my patience and my temper. In many ways, I was fearful that, while I could provide a home with everything a child would need, I wouldn’t be able to love them well. After all, why aren’t more families like us doing it?
I think stereotypes are most easily broken when you meet the people who break them. Our friends Mary and Troy had already taken a crack at my imaginary mold before our very eyes. We watched how they beautifully incorporated two little guys into their already-existent family, but still felt the same struggles and frustrations that come with parenting littles. They are neither poor nor saintly and ultra-conservative, but care for their kids incredibly well. They are amazing parents, but still get frustrated and upset when their kids misbehave. They discipline, reinforce, redirect, guide, and teach, while also ensuring their kids aren’t the center of the universe. They understand, like we do, how you can love your children with every ounce of your being without putting them on a pedestal. They have all-star days, and terrible days and will end either one with a glass of wine. They are quality parents with realistic expectations, and completely shattered my beliefs about foster families.
Once the mold began to crumble, I began to realize that we, as moderate middle-class families, should be the new stereotype. Not because we are perfect (even though Mary and Troy kind of are), but because we can provide basic needs and also help children navigate the world with an open-mind.
What’s even more compelling is that it’s not just about our stable middle-class family. It’s also the fact that we live in a community surrounded by stable middle class families. When I started telling neighbors that we were going to foster, they began throwing things at us – Darla gave us a crib, Katherine handed me a car seat, Haley and Natasha offered up clothes. It was honestly overwhelming. Not one of them asked for a dime in return, but instead rallied around our family as we prepared our home. Our little guy was loved on by so many people before we even saw his face. Unfortunately, low-income families don’t often have this luxury. After all, it’s difficult to give your neighbor a couple eggs when you yourself are waiting for next week’s food stamps. By giving foster children not only a safe home, but also a safe community, we allow them the opportunity to grow in that space.
The decision was finally clear to us. God had completely mended my heart by answering all of my prodding questions. There were no more excuses or "what ifs". Once our focus truly zoomed in on the foster child, all of the questions became irrelevant. All previous questions that I asked here, here, and here, were out of my own selfish desires.
So we jumped off a cliff. (Or really, God pushed us). And in a lot of ways, we are still falling. We still have fears and anxieties. We sill struggle with the feelings that are associated with loving a child that doesn't share your blood. These are not easy things, but we are in with both feet. Not sure where we will land, but I know with all of my being, caring for foster children is the right thing for our family. And I pray with my whole heart, that it will be the right thing for more and more families just like us.
This is the fifth and final post in a series called, "Foster Care? I could never do that". Click here for the previous post.
This is the 4th post in a series, "Foster Care? I could never do that". Click here for the previous post.
Since we started dating, Daniel and I have discussed the possibility of adopting a child. My adoption heart has been drawn to Ethiopia, then to Haiti, and then came full circle back home to the United States. But despite our desire to adopt a baby, we shied away from foster care because of the other reasons I talked about here, here and here. And even though we had discussed the idea of adoption, it was often an after thought – we will adopt AFTER we have our bio kids, or we will adopt AFTER we have the finances in place or we will adopt AFTER our other kids are grown. I liked the idea of adoption, but it came with many conditions – conditions that I could control and quantify.
Growing up I pictured my family with four children – three biological little blondies and a wild card spot that could be filled by either an adopted child or another biological one. From the minute my second son arrived, I have referred to him as my middle child, not my youngest—he was just another stepping stone to building our family. If I talked to you last May, I would have told you we would start trying to get pregnant in August of 2015, because that was what MY life plan looked like. I guess God had a different idea.
There is no doubt in my mind that I want more children permanently in my home – so why then, would we consider foster care if we must risk giving a child back? That’s a great question—one that I asked myself (and God) approximately one bazillion times. (I would have made a great Pharisee, always asking questions trying to stump Jesus.) Unfortunately for me, He keeps providing answers to every single one of my questions. It’s starting to get annoying.
Disclaimer: I am not a foster care expert and the processes are different in every state – I simply know the process in the one state I’ve fostered in, Hawaii – so don’t assume all the logistics are the same everywhere.
In Hawaii, there is no option to “foster to adopt”. Due to the “Ohana” (family) culture that exists here, the state has a strong desire to reunite children with their birth family. In fact, 75% of children in Hawaii’s foster care system are reunited with some kind of family. Knowing this, we understand that our chances of adopting through foster care in Hawaii are not statistically in our favor. Even so, we have committed to serve children in foster care during our time in Hawaii, whether or not it leads to adoption.
I now know that God is in control of our family, and He will build it however He sees fit. So if after our time here we have been able to adopt through foster care, then great! But, if not? We will trust in God’s plan for our family and be grateful for the children we were able to serve. Can I tell you how much this uncertainty scares me? A whole freakin’ lot. But I know this – I am more scared to turn away from the foster children we can serve here than I am to figure out how we can build our family.
What I love about the way God works, is that He often answers prayers bigger and better than I even imagined. It had become very clear to us that we needed to foster, but I didn’t realize how fostering is arguably the most appealing and logical way to go about adopting a child. Like I said, we are unsure if we will be able to adopt, but if we are, there are a lot of perks from fostering first.
A friend once told me that the beautiful part of fostering is that, unlike a private adoption, you are able to have a “test run”. By welcoming a child into your home through foster care, you can begin to understand if this kid is really a good fit for your family. You will often gain in depth knowledge about this child’s family history and experience their strengths and shortcomings first hand. By no means are you required to to adopt a child you’ve served in foster care, but at least you are able to make a fully informed decision – assessing how the child fits into your family’s dynamics.
Secondly, unlike private adoption, there is little to no financial burden. During a child’s time in foster care, the foster parents are paid a monthly stipend. The state (at least in Hawaii) usually covers the cost of the home study as well as any legal fees associated with a foster child's adoption. And while the prospect of income is no reason to foster, it does make adoption incredibly more affordable for families who aren’t able to raise the $30,000-$40,000 for a private adoption.
Lastly, we feel that we can serve the greatest need by looking to adopt a child in the foster care system. And while these kiddos potentially have more trauma in their lives than the newborns adopted through private agencies, they are still deserving of a loving home.
Our hearts were almost healed and I knew we were called to foster, but one detail was still perplexing. In my limited experience with the system, I only heard of two types of families who foster – poor families who needed the money or precious, saintly, ultra-conservative families. We didn’t fit either bill, so I began to wonder, “Why don’t more middle-of-the-road families do it?”
This is the fourth post in a series, "Foster Care? I could never do that". Click here for the previous post.
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I am a lover of people, a child of God, and a laugher at jokes. I write words, cry tears and smile at strangers.