Foster Care – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way!

As many of you know, there are two things that I am passionate about….foster care and adoption.   Did you know that it would take less than 1% of American Households to empty the Foster Care System?  That blows my mind.  Its what I tweeted this week in the hopes of reaching other like minded people.  And, happily I found a few.  Yay!  Hopefully, together we can make a difference.

Seriously people, we CAN do this!  We’re talking less than 1%.  Why are so many kids in foster care?  Without permanent homes? Why aren’t there enough foster familes?  Well, I don’t have all the answers.  However, having been a foster parent myself, I do believe it has a lot to do with lack of information, mis-information, and fear. 

I was so moved and felt compelled to write this blog after stumbling upon this emotional video on youtube (yes, get the tissues).  I think this is what Brandy Mychals was talking about this week in her blog.  I am compelled Brandy.  This is the kind of stuff that brings me to tears and breaks my heart.  And, my hope is that you will feel complled too.  I am not saying you have to be part of the 1% and become a Foster Parent, but please take the time to hear what the kids are saying.  If it moves you and you feel you can help by spreading the word, telling a friend, having a new clothes drive, collecting backpacks for school, used suitcases, or learning what repsite care is about, all of these things can have a huge impact! 

It may be that the fear is based on the assumption that the kids did something wrong or that they’re bad kids.  Sure, there are always a few misguided kids in the world, and not only in foster care!  So, I’d like to stress that these kids are not a bunch of bad kids!  It is NOT their fault.  They are innocent victims of their home life situation and thrown into the Foster Care System!  They are taken away from the only people they know.  They are scared.  In many instances they get moved around…a lot!  Their lives get turned upside down often.  All in a matter of minutes.  It takes time to adjust.  Can you imagine moving 5-10 times within a year?!  To total strangers- each time?  Always keeping a suitcase (if your lucky,  otherwise its garbage bags!) packed.  How would that affect you emotionally?  I can’t even go there.

And, its not just older kids in foster care.  There are new borns, toddlers, and tweens!  They are innocent children unable to help themselves in need of loving homes.  They crave moms, dads and siblings to feel a sense of connection, to be part of a family.  The ONE thing common to all kids (foster or not) is that they want to be LOVED.

These kids learn from an early age that they are not in control of their future or their destiny.  Fraceska says of foster care – ‘its just hard.”  Christa said I want to feel secure.  As I said, these kids are in desperate need of capable caring people to love them and guide them in their journey through life.

In the video Cassandra said, someone doesn’t have to be my blood family to know they are going to be there for me and not leave.  She feels she is too old to find a family who will adopt her.  She says it hurts.  HOW sad is that at such a young age?!  Like her, I wish there was some magic answer.  There is not.  However, I believe together, we can all make a difference in the life of a child….no matter how small…it all adds up.

Every child in foster care is looking for a guardian angel, to feel secure, to know they have a permanent home, to feel they are loved.  I can’t imagine being so young, so afraid, so lost and so desperate.  As Christa says, we need more good Foster Parents, they have so much love in them, they are angels, like guardian angels.

These are the children of the future.  They are victims.  We need to support and protect them in any way we can.  And, conveniently, May is Foster Care Awareness Month…..what better time to “start” making a difference….just saying:)

So, to my friends and fellow bloggers thanks for listening to my rant….and hopefully being part of the solution.  It’s always greatly appreciated.

To the Foster Kids, those in the system, and aging out, I want you to know that we think about you, we care about you, we are pulling for you, and we want the best for ALL of you.  You are loved!  We care.  And, together we are trying to make a difference. 

Hang in there,

Rita

Have you ever thought about being a foster parent?  Know anybody who has fostered?  Want to learn more about fostering?  Did you know there are different kinds of fostering (full, emergency, respite care) and ways you can help?  Would you be willing to spread the word?  If so, how can you make a difference?

Posted in adoption, fostercare, rita's rants | Tagged , , , , | 48 Comments

“Gifts From China: Happy Birthday to the Best!”

 

happy birthday girl!

Guess you can say this is a week of birthdays!  My daughter turned 5 ,wow, I can’t believe how time has flown by…seems like just yesterday she walked off the plane from China and into the arms of our famliy!  It has been a fabulous journey from start to finish.  However, I have to admit the wait was a bit of a killer, the paperwork process was a thesis in and of itself, and oh forget the dossier!  All along the way there were hurdles and obstacles, some I never imagined, but it was all good, and after almost 3 years it came to a happy ending.  We are so blessed to have her in our lives.  She is just like any other child…pure joy with a little sassyness to keep me on my toes.  Adoption is a journey of a thousand miles…..with many pit stops along the way…but it is well worth the repeated agony of “are we there yet?”  I meet people all the time who ask me about adopting.  They are curious about how I got started, why I chose an international adoption, what the requirements are to adopt, and how long until you get a baby?  And so, this blog was born…..to share with others the journey, the ups and downs, as well as the many joys!  It doesn’t have to become a battle of making it to the finish line in one piece….with all the correct paperwork in hand (that will help of course!).  If you are in the right frame of mind, have the necesary tools, and are prepared for the process and the wait, it can be the journey of a lifetime!

Have you adopted? Thought about adopting?  Know anybody who has adopted?  What was the biggest obstacle?  Any idea what the wait times are these days?

Posted in adoption, intercountry adoptions, international adoption | Tagged , , , , | 40 Comments

Good Parenting or Overly Obssesive?

A letter to a daughter…

 Where’s the love?  On Valentine’s day, I stumbled upon a blog from a mother to her daughter.  I read it and thought that is was beautiful.  Then I read the comments and was irritated by many of them.  Yes, the letter may have been a little over the top to some, but it’s her letter to her daughter….who are we to judge?

It’s sad she would be called obsessive, disturbing, and completely neurotic for bonding with and loving her daughter.  I could relate to so many of the things she said.  This woman gave birth to her only child.  She was scared to death when she was told the child would die of Leukemia.  Yes, she found out it was a mis-diagnosis,  thank goodness, but she still has a serious disease.  I am sure the fears never fully went away.  These things makes your love stronger.  If you have never experienced grief, fear, loss, or childhood illnesses, be thankful!  We all travel our own journey which makes us who we are.   In my eyes, she is a loving mother on so many counts.  We need more of her in this world.  I wish I could reach her to talk to her about being a foster parent.  There are kids all over America who just want to be loved.  She would make a great foster mom.  She has a lot of love to share.

Having had an only child for 6 years, I can totally relate.  My daughter was and still is my miracle baby.  I still tell her that now, 10 years later!  I was terrified when I lost her twin early on.  I lived in fear I’d lose them both.  In the end having preeclampsia was dangerous for the both of us.  We survived.  She was  teeny tiny, a preemie.  A fighter.  My miracle.  I’m allowed.  Maybe all of this makes me have a deeper appreciation.  I DO.  I don’t take any of it for granted.  And, it doesn’t make me crazy!

mom's hellicopter

I am not afraid to admit I am sort of a hellicopter parent.  Do I really have a choice these days?!  Seriously.  However, I am happy to report that on the hellicopter quiz I scored a 13….”nice job”.  So, I guess that means I am doing ok!  Yes, I love her to death.  Would do anything for her.  Worry about her all the time.  She is my world.  This goes for all of my kids.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve given birth or not.  Why do people think that it does?!  It would still rip your heart out if something happened to them!  You love them all, to infinity and beyond as my boys like to say, unconditionally.

This does not make me insane, obsessive, disturbing, or neurotic.  It makes me caring, loving, and bonded!  We’re connected.  I want my kids to know they are loved.  Always.

To those who could see nothing but the negative……you may be missing out on the small things in life…which are the big things!

Look for me in the sky…..hovering ever so slightly. 

Have you been called a hellicopter parent?  Know any?  Would you change a thing?  How would you describe your parenting?  What did you score on the quiz?

Posted in fostercare, hellicopter parents, rita's rants, staying connected | Tagged , , , , | 39 Comments

Valentine’s Day – Worlds Apart

Happy Valentine's Day!

I met with an au pair and host family recently and left in tears.  That has never happened before!  Here was this young 19 year old guy who arrived in the states a few weeks ago, eager to improve his English, take care of kids, experience our culture and meet new people.  As part of the Cultural Care orientation we talk about homesickness.  Most au pairs look at me and shrug shoulders or shake their head.  He quickly said YES!  His eyes welled up, and I instantly knew he was hurting.  His host mom said it’s his girlfriend.  He misses her.  We began to talk about what he was going to do in the coming weeks and months to stay connected. Trying to lighten things, his host mom half jokingly said I thought you said you were going to break up with her before you left?!  He said I thought I had to but I changed my mind.  I was so touched by this.  His host mom laughed and said its okay, you didn’t have to. He started to tell us how hard it is for him and his girlfriend, and his host mom said yes, its always harder on the person who is left behind (telling us she had done both).  She went on to say you are in a new place, doing new things, busy, and trying to make your way.  Your girlfriend is home, in the same place, same people and surroundings, and just thinking about you all the time.  For some reason, this hit me harder than I imagined.  I had never really thought about it like that before but having someone in pain right in front of you willing to talk about it made it all real.  He confirmed what she was saying.  Although I had never been the one “left behind”, I did leave the love of my life (breaking up not long before) when I transferred and went away to college.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done!  And unfortunately, I was in so much pain myself at the time that I never thought about how difficult it might have been for him.  Sadly, we never got to discuss or resolve any of it.  The host mom was partly right, I was in a new place, had new people, school and classes, and so many new things to distract me.  Being busy was good but it didn’t take away the heartache, pain, or the fact that I missed him so much.  This au pair was feeling the same about his girlfriend.  It was an eye opener and makes me think many au pairs may face this on top of culture shock, trying to integrate into a new family, and having to overcome the language barrier when they arrive.  This is a lot for a young adult!

We talked more about how they could use Skype, text messaging, the free vonage phone calls, and email to keep in touch.  Suggested how possibly planning a vacation with his girlfriend could help them both look to the future while keeping the love alive.  I tried to reassure him that he would be okay, if he gave himself a chance, and talked openly with his girlfriend about what they were both experiencing.  Something I never did…but should have.

I let the au pair know that I’ve had many au pairs in my group, some that lived with me personally, who came with a boyfriend/girlfriend, and left a year or more later still together with that person….some married and other to be wed soon!  It is possible for a relationship to survive….however, you both have to want it and work at it.

As I drove away, still surprised that I hadn’t thought about how the “other person” might feel, Separate Ways – Worlds Apart by Journey came on the radio…and as the tears began to flow…this post was born.

So, to the guy I “left behind”, I am sorry!  It wasn’t because I was over you, that I didn’t think about you, or that I didn’t love you…I did.  All the time.  It was because I was in so much pain that I didn’t realize how it may have affected you too.  And, on this Valentine’s Day, as we have gone our separate ways, I wish you love, health and happiness!  You are forever in my heart.

To my au pair friend, I hope you and your girlfriend are able to stay connected and remain in love even though you are literally worlds apart!  I wish you the best of luck during your year here in the states…..and in your relationship.

Happy Valentine’s Day…….

Have you had to leave a loved one behind?  We’re you ever left behind?  Was it painful?  How did you deal with your feelings and emotions?  Were you able to stay connected?  What advice do you have for others going through a similar situation?

Posted in au pair stories, staying connected | Tagged | 7 Comments