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Introduction: Focus on Foster Care

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Focus on Foster Care

“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4 ESV

May is National Foster Care Month.  We at Mosaic Of Moms have a heart for all forms of mothering including foster mothering.

Our purpose for this week is to encourage those who are currently working with foster children, to bring awareness to the need for Godly homes for these children, and to inspire our readers to consider new areas of ministry.

This week we bring perspectives from some outstanding women who have experienced the foster care system in various forms: as a foster child, as foster mothers, and as foster siblings.

As part of our focus, we also want to highlight three ministries that reach out with Christ’s arms to the foster children of Northwest Arkansas. 

  • First, The C.A.L.L. (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime) is a Christian non-profit Foster Care Church Initiative in which various churches are partnering with the leadership of the Arkansas DHHS’ Division of Children and Family Services.  The idea is that prospective foster, adoptive, and respite care parents can go through state-approved training WITHIN a church setting and therefore have a built-in support system within the church family.  Their name originates from God’s call on the Church: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27.  Their mission is “to educate, equip and encourage the Christian community to provide a future and a hope for the children in foster care.” (Facebook Link)

  • Second is OpenOurEyesPhotography. Desiree Howard started this business a little over one year ago. She loves photography. Always has since she was little. It’s more than a hobby or business; it’s a passion. Pictures bring memories to life. They help us remember. Photos should be fun and full of life. Full of realness. When you look at a picture you should see personality. They should make you smile and laugh. Her passion for photography goes hand in hand with a desire to help others.  And after much prayer and seeking the Lord through His Word about starting this business, God led her to donating to foster care families, adoptive families, and missions. Desiree believes what God desires of all of us is to pursue our God-given talents and passions and that those will always involve others. This is what drives this business. Or should we say WHO. (Facebook Link)

 

 

  • Finally,  Saving Grace, Inc. This ministry for young women who age-out of the foster system, provides transitional living and life skills training that addresses the whole person.   Their purpose is to be “a Christ centered, safe harbor offering acceptance, restoration and hope to young women of Northwest Arkansas, preparing them for inter-dependent living.”   (Facebook Link)

Our friend, Becky Shaffer, is the Co-Founder & Executive Director of Saving Grace Inc.  She grew up in the foster system and then became a foster-mother.  God blessed Becky with the vision of SGI, and through her obedience, God is using this ministry to shape the lives of many young women in NWA.  Our very own Kerri Young was on the Founding Board. 🙂  Melissa, Gretchen, and I have been involved with this ministry in various ways as well.  This ministry is dear to our heart and so is Becky!

Becky will be our main guest blogger this week!  We are honored that she would share with us God’s amazing work in her life.

This week at MosaicOfMoms:

Monday: For the Love of a Mother; Safe in the Arms of The Father Becky Shaffer will share her testimony of growing up in the foster system and how those experiences shaped her as a mother.

Wednesday: 10 Things I Forgot About Life with Strangers– Becky Shaffer will give practical advice about fostering from the perspective of someone who has lived it.

Thursday: Voices of Foster Siblings– We will hear from two children, who are now adults, about what it was like to grow up in a home in which their biological families welcomed foster children.

Friday: Voices of Foster Mothers– We will hear from several foster mothers about the greatest joy and the greatest challenge of fostering.

 

 

For the Love of a Mother; Safe in the Arms of The Father

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Focus on Foster Care

By: Becky Shaffer of Saving Grace Inc.

Psalm 27:10, Message

My father and mother walked out and left me,
but God took me in.

I remember hearing my Sunday school teacher read this passage many years ago.  I got it…from the moment I heard it, I understood what it meant and that it was indisputable truth.  I knew God was my father….my daddy, and that my future would be different than my present.  My biological father was not home about 99% of my childhood…he came home when he was lonely, thus Mama gave birth to my baby brother…one more mouth to feed, one more reason for her to scream.  She was a violent woman and she gave no warning, at least the little girl I was could never predict when she was going to “blow”.  (You can read more about my childhood at here.)

I was eventually taken away from my mother….only because of my trouble with the police from the age of eleven to twelve.  They had no idea the violence I was enduring at home and how I found myself in a “family” of crank/meth users and dealers.  I was taken to a children’s home where I thrived.  I was behind in school and out of the kindness of their hearts (because I was so “big” for my age) the school administration only placed me one year behind where I should have been.  I was tall and clumsy, with no social graces…had no idea what personal hygiene was, much less how to read and spell.  I am certain I read at an early elementary level.  I began to thrive in school….can I just say I was smart?  It was one of the best feelings in the world…I’d felt dumb my entire life.  If I were to be honest, I still struggle with feeling dumb. 

I spent time with a young mom while at the children’s home—she had a house full of little ones.  It was through watching her that I learned to be a mom.  Her babies were always happy, her house was always messy, her husband loved her and she loved him….I knew I wanted this for my life, and for the children I had yet to give birth to.  The problem was I had no idea how to get it.  The “discipline” I knew at the cruel hands of my mother was so far different than the love and care this young couple gave to their children….always loving them…hugging, kissing… after correction…even after a spanking (which wasn’t that often), love.  Times spent with them were light hearted and fun.  They had no idea how I watched them, learning from their every move. 

It was time for me to graduate from high school.  I chose a Christian College too far away from the love and care of the staff at the children’s home I’d learned to love and trust.  I was terrified when I got to school, so scared and alone…back to not belonging.  I met a boy and not long after meeting him, became pregnant…then married, in that order.  We gave birth to our first daughter and I knew without a doubt I was going to breast feed her….just like the young mother I spent so much time with in my childhood.  My “real” family thought I was crazy for doing such a thing… “Why would you do that, it’s just nasty?”  When I think about that now it makes me laugh!  Really, it does!  This coming from people who live in the filthiest conditions, men in and out of their home, drugs and alcohol laying around in reach of their children…and I’m “nasty”.  That’s just funny to me!  Ok…feeling just a little sarcastic here people!  Well, I didn’t listen to their rejection….I took memories of my time with the young mother and tried to mimic all she did…messy house and all!  Christin got a bath daily, she was breast fed…which is one of my most treasured memories with my babies….and oh my goodness, did I have so much more to learn!  My feelings of sorrow over my own childhood caused so much guilt and brought about negative thoughts…like, “How can I be a good mom after my mother’s example?”   I spent time and money trying to make up for where I felt like I was failing my baby girl.

It wasn’t until I began to get into the Word that I realized so many things….Here are some scripture that helped grow me into the mom God wanted me to be.

He took my simple and backward ways and grew me into a wise mama!

Psalm 19:7

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

 

He reminded me that it was His strength that I needed to rely on, not my own…and when I’m weak, then I’m strong!

II Corinthians 12:9

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

In more recent years, He reminded me that He knit my children together in my womb and that their salvation was between them and Him….not me, them and Him!

Psalm 139:13

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

My children belong to Him…He created them and He worked out their salvation…they can’t get to heaven through me.  I know most of us know this, but do we live it?  I remember when my oldest was in high school and she took Russian as her choice of foreign language.  In total, she took it from 6th grade all the way through her senior year of high school.  She wanted to go to Russia and teach English and spread the gospel.  I began to pray and ask God to not allow it…Russia was so far away and so dangerous for a young girl.  She didn’t go.  When she went to college, she got involved with a boy who convinced her that her parents were crazy and you don’t have to go to church to be “saved”…she walked away from everything she had been raised to believe.  She was well grounded in the Truth.  During that first year she was away from home and had nothing to do with her family, God began to reveal to me that there are much farther and more dangerous places one can travel than Russia.  He showed me that my children are His and they are only on this planet for a moment….then on to eternity. 

Our oldest is still working out things that are between her and God….and it is my job (as hard as it is to keep quiet) to pray for her and fight on my knees.  I have two more girls at home…one going into her senior year of high school this fall and one going into the third grade. 

We read “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young on the way to school each morning…I want so badly to write God’s word on their hearts until the time comes that I can’t do it anymore…that time does come girls…we only have their sweet hearts but for a moment.  I still cry out to God that He would protect their hearts, eyes, and ears….from evil.  I pray for all of my girls in this way.  I ask that He would bring godly men into their lives….but I also pray this; “Lord, if You don’t mean for them to marry, but to serve You…I’m good with that.  Please let their hearts be sold out to serving You and Lord if that means, no son-in-law for me, no grandbabies…I am good with that too.”  Girls, we are only on this planet but for a few precious moments…then it’s on to eternity.  I want my girls to know God in such a way that it is the lover of their souls they pursue…nothing more, nothing less.

I

This past Mother’s Day proved to be a time of reflection for me…a year ago I read a book “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp.   May 13th’s Joy Dare, 3 gifts found in your mother…. I couldn’t think of three gifts for quite some time.  I ignored the question all day and read other post from women who came from a long line of godly girls.  That wasn’t my story and I knew it, so I ignored.  My sweet family got up and went to church, laughing and cutting up all the way…dreaming about our vacation coming up in June, still I ignored.  I sat and worshiped with my husband at my side, still I ignored.  We came home and I sat with my feet up and read cards, smelled pink roses, while my husband and girls cooked…we ate together and played “guesstures” and laughed hysterically until we cried and still I ignored.  “My mother gave me no gifts”, I spoke quietly to my heart all day. 

 

Later Sunday evening, after getting everyone tucked into bed I began to allow myself to reflect…3 gifts found in my mother. 

  1. God, my heavenly father, Daddy, Abba.
  2. God, His word.
  3. My mother allowed other women to come in and fill the gap where she fell so short…for she came from a long line of bitter, abusive women…not godly girls.  She really had nothing to glean from as a mother.

 

 It is my hope and prayer that I leave my girls with these three gifts.

  1. God is your heavenly father, Daddy, Abba….they are His princess.  Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God! (Romans 8:38-39)
  2. God’s word written on their hearts!  —because when they are old they will not depart from it! (Proverbs 22:6)  All that they do, every decision will be filtered through the word of God I spoke to them and over them!
  3. Delight in the Lord…He will give you the desires of your heart…the Bible says so. (Psalm 37:4) —Find your joy in Him!

The next time your path crosses with a young mama who obviously has no clue…you know the ones that really aggravate you?  She’s got a baby on the way and the one in the Walmart buggy has a bottle with soda or tea…just to shut ‘em up…all while talking loud and a mile a minute on her cell phone about the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard since you were in junior high.  What if you invested in that one girl?  I mean really invested….time, energy, prayer and coming along her side…the not so lovable and teach her a different way.  Willing yourself not to judge or be critical, but with the most tender love and care….mentor her.   I can’t imagine if I had not been taught a different way than the way I was raised….live would have been so drastically different for my precious girls.

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody,

I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.  ~Mother Teresa

Focus on Foster Care Week:
 
Sunday: Introduction: Focus on Foster Care– We highlighted three unique ministries that serve foster children in creative ways.

Wednesday: 10 Things I Forgot About Life with Strangers– Becky Shaffer will give practical advice about fostering from the perspective of someone who has lived it.

Thursday: Voices of Foster Siblings– We will hear from two children, who are now adults, about what it was like to grow up in a home in which their biological families welcomed foster children.

Friday: Voices of Foster Mothers– We will hear from several foster mothers about the greatest joy and the greatest challenge of fostering.

10 Things I Forgot About Life With Strangers

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Focus on Foster Care

By: Becky Shaffer of Saving Grace Inc.

“Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in his holy house.” Psalms 68:5

Before being taken from my violently abusive mother, and being sent to a children’s home, I found safety in a family of crank/meth users and dealers.  Although this was a very dangerous place for an eleven year old to be, I knew I was safe…mostly.  They were a protective bunch and I could depend on them to give me a place to sleep and something to eat.  Looking back now, I can remember certain people in the “family” being “taken care of” and not ever being seen again.  I began to get into trouble with the police and ended up in and out of jail…still just a child.  After getting busted at school with a large amount of marijuana and I slipped off to the “bathroom”, left school went on the run.  My older sister and I lived on the streets in Hot Springs for two weeks (unspeakable things happened—my sister protecting me as much as she could) before going back to Mena and turning myself in.  My mother called the police and as I sat handcuffed in the back seat, my father slipped in beside me.  He cried, felt sorry…yet did nothing to step in….he was more worried they would arrest him than any trouble I was in.  I honestly don’t think he knew what to do.  I stayed in a juvenile detention center for several weeks before being taken to the children’s home.

I want to share a few of the quiet sufferings…I dared not share with anyone.  Doing so would only reveal thoughts and fears that would bring about distrust and more insecurity…so I suffered alone.

  • 10 things I forgot about life with strangers…that aren’t such good memories, that I wish I would have remembered when I became a foster mom.
    • I never felt I belonged.
    • I never felt good enough.
    • Always felt alone.
    • Grace?  What grace?
    • I would do anything to be a part of a family.
    • I asked for it….good, bad and very ugly….I asked for it.
    • I quit believing anyone cared after…one by one, they left and never looked back. 
    • Crying is better done in the shower…nobody cares and it almost always makes things worse.
    • Eat what’s in
    • I missed my “monster mom” and longed to be with my family.

Psalm 137:5-6

5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
6 If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.

I was not forgotten…not unloved.  God promised to never forget me…I was the one who forgot.   

Sometimes I forget that I am very, very, very loved and never forgotten. ~Brave Girls Club

These are things I learned after “aging out”…it was one of the most difficult times in my life.  It was “me against the universe, in a fight for survival”…nobody cared if I lived or died, would they even know if I did?

  • 10 Things I learned after I “aged out”
    • You can be surrounded by people and still the deafening silence of being alone can take your breath away.
    • There’s a lot of shame in survival.
    • After I moved to college…I knew it was do or die, so I got pregnant.
    • ….having a baby doesn’t make anyone love you more…or maybe ever.
    • ….having a baby doesn’t make anyone proud, yet I was so proud of this precious life growing within.
    • Feeling very unloved and unworthy of love…made it difficult to give love.
    • I didn’t know how to write a check.
    • I didn’t know how to pump gas.
    • I had a baby and truly felt loved for the first time in my life by another human being that would never leave me. (lot of pressure for a little one)
    • Husbands and wives don’t divorce just because they have a fight.

 

Things I learned from my children as a foster/house parent…that made me a better mom:

  • Take a shower and get dressed first thing in the morning.
  • Do my least favorite job first…paperwork.
  • Do something that I love every day…so I’m good for everyone.
  • Pray for our family every day.
  • One verse a day keeps the blues and the PMS away.
  • Have cookies baking or popcorn in the microwave when hungry kids come home from school….it’s amazing what they will share while feeding their hungry tummies, plus it’s a beautiful memory they can refer to when they start their family.
  • Be happy when I see them walk through the door after school…praying for them the half hour before they come in changes my attitude and helps me see them through the eyes of The Father…even on the hardest days.
  • Consistency causes them to trust….have a similar schedule for morning and night.
  • Repetition penetrates the dullest of minds….Jesus calling for kids  –even for the older ones.
  • It takes one month for every year they are old before real change begins to happen…then a beautiful thing begins to happen as their heart wounds heal.
  • They really don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
  • The louder they get + the quieter I get = a much quieter conversation. (I wasn’t always very good at this)
  • Mealtime needs to be lighthearted…no crying over spilled milk.

  

  • Lighten up…it’s not all about me.
  • Grace, give lots of grace.
  • Blood is thicker than any “good home” I can offer.
  • Birthdays and Christmas hold no joy if they don’t hear from their biological families.
  • No matter what….if I let them call me mom, I need to plan on being grandma too….

 

I want to leave you with one more piece of advice if you’re a foster parent or if you are pondering the thought. 

  • First of all, treat them like your own…even if you can’t love them like your own just yet. 
  • Keep a realistic level of expectations….there are times when your foster children are just trying not to hold their breath and they just need to feel safe enough breathe….think about how your own children behave at times! lol  Goodness, I could write a book on the things my own children have done to make me want to pull my hair out!!
  • Don’t be a control freak…allow them room to grow, while giving natural consequences.
  • Love them like they were dying….they feel like they are.
  • Pray, pray, pray….and get in the Word…even if it’s just one verse a day.  DO IT!!  This is your lifeline!  Listen to uplifting music…find your style and find a Christian group and put the positive stuff in!
  • Make time for time with other foster mamas and hang out once a week to encourage…not to gripe, but encourage!  Woot!
  • Take care of YOU!!!  Eat right, exercise, make time for the hubs and make your marriage a priority…ya know what I mean here girls, get counseling and make sure you are healthy emotionally….in my case for too many years I ate myself into an oblivion and was too unhealthy to enjoy a hike with my children!  If you are so over weight you can’t fit into a regular seat at the baseball game without feeling injured afterwards, you might need some help with more than just eating habits.  I know this is a sensitive subject….I want you to know I struggle soooo much in this area.  There’s no blaming 50-100 lbs on my thyroid or big bones!  I’d have to have the bones of a hippo to support this kind of weight!  It’s hard, but can be done!  Just start small and change habits…if you’ve seen me lately, you know I have a lot farther to go in this area…but I’m doing it!  (read “Made to Crave”…I’ve got extra copies and the dvd that goes with it…you are welcome to them!!) J  Ok…whew!  This lil’ paragraph may get me into some trouble, but PLEASE know it is written in love…lots and lots of love. 
  • There will be very difficult days ahead; these are His children…not ours.  He knit them together (Psalm 139)….always remember His mercies are new every morning!

Lamentations 3:22-24

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

 

Recommended books:

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne

Write me at info@savinggracenwa.org if you would like to meet for coffee!  I would love to support you in this adventure in any way that I can!!  YOU are a delight and God adores YOU!  Bless you as you care for His babies!

God’s grateful girl,

Becky

Check out Becky’s blogs: http://godsgratefulgirl.wordpress.com/ and http://thebeautyofsavinggrace.wordpress.com/

Related Articles:

Sunday: Introduction: Focus on Foster Care– We highlighted three unique ministries that serve foster children in creative ways.

Monday: For the Love of a Mother; Safe in the Arms of The Father– Becky Shaffer shared her testimony of growing up in the foster system and how those experiences shaped her as a mother.

Thursday: Voices of Foster Siblings– We will hear from two children, who are now adults, about what it was like to grow up in a home in which their biological families welcomed foster children.

Friday: Voices of Foster Mothers– We will hear from several foster mothers about the greatest joy and the greatest challenge of fostering.

Voices of Foster Siblings

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Focus on Foster Care

“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”  Isaiah 1:17

One huge stumbling block for families considering fostering is this question: “How would fostering affect my biological children?” That is why we decided to include testimonies from individuals who are now adults, about what it was like to grow up in a home in which their biological families welcomed foster children.

After reading these three accounts, we think you will agree that the effect is not what you may expect…

Love Goes Beyond Bloodline: By Lindsey of Kansas City, MO

When my parents became foster parents they made sure we were prepared for the change in our home. My mom taught my brothers and I to love and treat each baby or child that came into our home as if it were our own sibling. This was our family’s mission field. I believe that every child that grows up in a Godly home desires to share the love of Jesus and make a difference even when they are young. For us it meant loving these babies back to health, playing with them, and giving them a piece of our heart never knowing how long they would be a part of our family.

I will always remember the baby girl who came into our home with two broken legs and fractured ribs. She was in our home for almost 3 years.  During that time, I became very attached to her. All the while the reunification process with her family was going on, and after 3 years it finally happened. I wish I could tell you that it was a happy day but it wasn’t. It was a hard day because for almost 3 years this precious baby girl only knew the unconditional love of our family and church family. She had been deeply touched by the love of Jesus. The family dynamics in hers would be very different and she was old enough to know the difference. In that moment we had to let go and let God. God brought her into our home for a season.  I rest in the hope of knowing that the very same unconditional love that she experienced in our home is still available to her through Jesus.

I didn’t know then, but the Lord was preparing me for the wonderful life he had in store for me in the future.  The same day I married my husband I became “Mom” to his two biological children. I am very grateful to my parents for being such wonderful examples as well as training me in all the skills I use on a daily basis raising my own children, but most importantly they showed me that love goes beyond bloodline.

Home of Safety and Love: By Josh of Kansas City, MO 

The best part of being a foster family is watching lives change and even bringing life to little ones who are close to death. More than once I saw a doctor or social worker send a sick or wounded baby home with us that they had no hope for. I would watch my mother love that baby to life again. It didn’t matter if the wounds were physical or emotional, love and the grace of God changed so many lives.
The hardest part for me was dealing with the fact that we can’t fix everything…. Sometimes we just had to give it to God and trust Him to work it out. I saw at a really young age that the loving and safe home I enjoyed was not the norm in many homes in our city, but I also saw the grace of God at work.  For a season our home was that loving and safe place for lots of little lives. Looking back I know it had a huge impact on my life and I wouldn’t take a moment back for anything.
 

We Believe in a God of Miracles: By Madison, Dallas Baptist University

I am an eighteen-year-old, biological daughter of a family that has participated in foster care for over fifteen years. Ever since I can even remember, my family has been having children come in and out of our home. When I was younger, we always had teenagers in our house, and once I became a teen we had babies in our house. Now I am eighteen and have one biological brother that is twenty-one, and three adopted siblings that are ages one, two, and three.

Most people look at my family and think that we are crazy, but I would not want it any other way. My parents have instilled a passion in me for the children without homes. Our household lives by the verse Isaiah 1:17, taking very seriously caring for the orphans and pleading the case of the widows. Growing up this way quickly taught me that life is not all about me. I remember the first time we adopted, waves of anxiety had come and gone all day and I felt a little bit of jealousy begin to creep in, then I paused and remembered Jesus had a perfect plan for my family and this little precious baby boy without a home was a part of it! I remember in the midst of all my crazy feelings declaring to God: “great is Your faithfulness”. I remember feeling comforted. I remember Him feeling so near. I remember His encouragement. I remember His mercy. I remember His listening ear and His assuring voice. I remember His grace. He was my guide when my tears blurred my vision. He showed me that my family was a beautiful picture of how he intended adoption to be.

My family has been through much heartbreak with children in foster care and failed adoptions, but we believe in a God of miracles – and let me tell you…the three children we have adopted are complete miracles! I am so grateful that He doesn’t ever leave my family to fight for ourselves, but rather pursues, protects, restores and lives inside of us. He continues to bless us tremendously through the lives of the children in foster care.

Focus on Foster Care Week:
 
Sunday: Introduction: Focus on Foster Care– We highlighted three unique ministries that serve foster children in creative ways.

Monday: For the Love of a Mother; Safe in the Arms of The Father– Becky Shaffer shared her testimony of growing up in the foster system and how those experiences shaped her as a mother.

Wednesday: 10 Things I Forgot About Life with Strangers– Becky Shaffer will give practical advice about fostering from the perspective of someone who has lived it.

Friday: Voices of Foster Mothers– We will hear from several foster mothers about the greatest joy and the greatest challenge of fostering.

 
***The above picture was provided by OpenOurEyesPhotography.

They recently did a photo shoot day in May for families who Foster. Six families received free 30 minute photo sessions and a CD of all edited photo’s. One family will also receive a love offering from all sessions done in the month of May. (p.s. There is still time to book for May to go towards this gift!)
 
10% of all photo session earnings go to either a family adopting, fostering, or going on missions.
25% of all fundraiser days go to that family.

 

Voices of Foster Mothers

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Focus on Foster Care

I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; …to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:6-7,16

In this, our final post for our Focus on Foster Care week, we asked our friends and family who are or have been in the trenches as foster mothers to respond to this question: “What is the greatest joy and the greatest challenge of fostering?”  Here is what they had to say:

 

  • (One of) the greatest joy(s) of fostering is watching your biological kids love on kids and accept them graciously. So many people seem to think they will suffer so much doing foster care. That isn’t true.
    (One of) the great challenge(s) of fostering is not judging the kids’ biological parents for having put their kids in bad situations. We ALL fall short. Learning to show grace when people don’t deserve it, is a hard lesson on how God has shown US grace when we didn’t deserve it!    

                        ~Kelly, Rogers, AR

  • Greatest joy: Having one of your foster kids say- “Thank you for loving me.  I wouldn’t be the mom I am if it wasn’t for you”-a decade later.  Greatest challenge: Learning to work with a very flawed system and giving it grace as God gives us- nothing and no one is perfect!

 ~Tiffany, Frisco, TX www.simplestofgifts.com 

  • The biggest challenge is seeing such very young people who carry so much pain.
    The greatest joy, specifically for me, the day the judge signed the papers stating that the boys were legally permanent members of my family. Overall, it was seeing the resiliency of kids who had been through terrible experiences. For me, seeing them smile was a testament that God really is in control and provides comfort to those in need. I felt blessed to be the physical arms that represented His comfort and support.

~ Kendra, Rogers, AR

 

  • The greatest joy of fostering is the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a child who has never experienced unconditional love. The greatest struggle is trusting God through all of the uncertainty that comes with being a foster parent. That uncertainty comes from not knowing how long a child will be in your home, questioning whether or not you are doing everything possible to meet a child’s specific needs, and second-guessing yourself when those around you are quick to judge.

~Ashley, Bentonville, AR

 

  • There are great joys and challenges with each placement, some are reunited with parents, for some its adoption into a forever family.  As a foster-mother, my heart remembers each of these moments. For my husband and me, the stress on one particular day was heightened, as the biological parents of a child in our home were in court, facing termination of all their parental rights. It had been a long three-year journey. As we were waiting on the call concerning the outcome at court, we had also accepted a new “placement”, a 2-day old, drug-exposed baby girl. The worker brought her into our home and she was so tiny, so seemingly perfect, we immediately fell in love, knowing the goal was reunification with her mother.  I would do all I could to walk-out the process with this drug-addicted mother, knowing it would be a steep, up-hill battle for her to change her life style and gain back custody of this child. And just as this new journey was beginning, the phone rang…the Judge had made his decision, termination of parental-rights granted. It was bittersweet moment even after 3 years of refusing to take necessary steps to gain back custody of their child, I felt deeply saddened for these biological parents.  More often than not, these children leave a foster home to reunite with biological parents or being placed in a new adoptive family. But for these two girls, the journey led to being adopted into our family. You don’t always know what God has in store when you say “yes” to a child!

                                                                                                                                                                                  ~Tayna- Kansas City, MO

We want to hear from you! If you are or have ever been a foster mother, please comment below and tell us your greatest joy and greatest challenge.

Focus on Foster Care Week:

Sunday: Introduction: Focus on Foster Care– We highlighted three unique ministries that serve foster children in creative ways.

Monday: For the Love of a Mother; Safe in the Arms of The Father– Becky Shaffer shared her testimony of growing up in the foster system and how those experiences shaped her as a mother.

Wednesday: 10 Things I Forgot About Life with Strangers– Becky Shaffer gave practical advice about fostering from the perspective of someone who has lived it.

Thursday: Voices of Foster Siblings– We heard from two children, who are now adults, about what it was like to grow up in a home in which their biological families welcomed foster children.

 

***The above picture was provided by OpenOurEyesPhotography.

They recently did a photo shoot day in May for families who Foster. Six families received free 30 minute photo sessions and a CD of all edited photo’s. One family will also receive a love offering from all sessions done in the month of May. (p.s. There is still time to book for May to go towards this gift!)
 
10% of all photo session earnings go to either a family adopting, fostering, or going on missions.
25% of all fundraiser days go to that family.