Monday, June 30, 2014

FAQs (and other inappropriate comments)

We received our foster placements last week! I will share more later on how we're adjusting but for now I am going to publish this post I wrote just hours before getting the call that CPS would soon be here with precious 2-year old twin girls. 

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I already covered why we've decided to foster. Now I thought I'd cover some of the other topics that people have been curious about or had strong opinions on. And weren't afraid to share them. Ahem.

Now, the majority of people in our lives have been overwhelmingly supportive and excited for us and we are extremely grateful. But we have also been met with some disappointing reactions from others too. You wouldn't believe what some people spew out of their mouths with no second thought about how hurtful their words are (or lack of words, which also stings). We have found that even perfect strangers have no filter. We really make an effort not to take the comments personally or be offended and instead give them the benefit of the doubt. There are a lot of misconceptions about foster care and SURELY if they realized that these are just KIDS they would not be in such opposition to what we've carefully chosen to do. This is a topic that I'm obviously passionate about and I love answering questions that anybody might have. Even when the questions/comments turn offensive or inappropriate I do think they are genuinely rooted in curiosity or misinformation and not ugliness. (Or at least I hope so.)

How could you do this to your kids? Won't they feel neglected and unloved without your undivided attention?

Apparently some people question our priorities and whether we truly love our children or not. Of course we love them. They mean the world to us and this certainly isn't something we should have to debate. Would you ask parents who decided to get pregnant and have more biological children the same thing? No, you wouldn't. It's really not much different. Obviously we will not be blood-related to these children but that isn't what defines family for us. Obviously our attention will be divided more -- but our love will not. And if I'm being honest, teaching our kids that they aren't the center of the universe was a big part of our decision to foster. We are excited for the opportunity to show them what serving others looks like. We have explained that it isn't going to be fun and games all of the time. That these new children will need time to learn boundaries and trust and that we will have to show them a lot of grace and patience and unconditional love. They aren't going into it thinking they are going to have a new permanent sibling or just a fun playmate. We have given them realistic expectations and will of course protect their hearts and best interests every day along the way of this process.
  
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.
1 Peter 4:10


Don't you know that foster kids are monsters? Don't you know that they'll hurt/rape/murder your family?

I wish I could say I was exaggerating here but nope, it has all been said and we were even given the statistics to back the statement up (100%, by the way). So, how do I even begin to answer this one? First of all, obviously foster kids aren't monsters. Foster kids are just kids. Their circumstances undoubtedly include a lot of hurt, but this doesn't make them damaged goods. They are not broken kids, they just come from broken places. This doesn't mean that the healing process is easy. It doesn't mean that their hurt won't possibly interfere with relationships, trust, and behavior in the short term. But it certainly doesn't mean that they are out to intentionally hurt others just because they've been hurt. And it also certainly doesn't mean that they should be given up on. Just like our children, we will teach them boundaries. And just like our children, they will be supervised. It is our job to protect all of our kids, biological or not, and we will do just that. Surely we will be there to intervene before a conflict over a toy escalates to murder. :)

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
James 2:1-4


How do you make sure you don't get a crack baby? Or kids that aren't too messed up? Or kids of a different race ::gasp:: ?

You gotta love the crack baby comment. We have heard that one several times, believe it or not. So here's the thing. 100% of kids in CPS custody have been abused or neglected. THIS IS WHY THERE IS SUCH A NEED. This is why we are doing this. These kids need people to care about them and advocate for them because nobody else will. How many people do you know who are repulsed by abortion and don't think twice about voicing their strong opinions for those helpless babies in their mother's womb? You may be one of them and that's great. But what happens to those helpless babies who are not aborted, yet still unwanted? Who cares about them then? There is such a disconnect between advocating for life in utero and advocating for them once they are born. They are still God's precious creation. They still deserve love and care.

And as for the topic of race. This is a very sensitive subject for a lot of people. But not for us. We do not care one way or another about the race of our foster kids. It wouldn't bother us in the slightest to welcome kids of a different race into our family and it would also be completely fine with us if they were the same race as us. We aren't "doing this for attention like the celebrities" (have actually heard that one, too). Sorry to those who don't agree, but it really is a non-issue for us. I have family on both sides who are biracial and as shocking as it may be for some people to believe, they are very much just normal human beings and there has never been any drama just because we all don't look exactly the same.

Our only question/concern about a potential different race was the effect on the foster kids themselves. We worried if they would feel different or like they didn't belong. We talked about it with our agency and they had some great wisdom and advice. They said that instead of going into it "colorblind" it is much healthier to acknowledge and celebrate any cultural differences. They haven't seen any issues with interracial foster homes and the bottom line is that kids just want to be part of a loving family no matter what they look like. 

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?
Malachi 2:10


I heard that fostering is kind of like buying a car. Do you really get to pick and choose what type of kids you get? And is it true that you get paid to take them?

This question kind of makes me cringe. Kids aren't cars and they aren't puppies. Your heart definitely isn't in the right place if you go into fostering or adoption just so you can customize your own personal child or collect a pay check. It certainly isn't a business transaction. But it is true that you can set preferences of the "type" of child that would fit your family best. You can choose race, gender, age, medical issues, behavior issues, etc. It is also true that while the children are in the state's custody, foster parents are paid a daily rate to reimburse for any cost associated with their care. It's essentially like a child-support arrangement. They also receive WIC and Medicaid. I think the daily rate is set by the state and in Texas it is approximately $23/day for a "basic" child (meaning no major medical/behavior issues). Foster kids usually show up with only the clothes on their back so this money is to pay for clothes, shoes, car seats, food, activities, and any other normal living expenses. It also goes to cover gas as foster parents are required to drive them to all of their doctor appointments, evaluations, parent/sibling visitations, etc.

From a financial perspective, there are no barriers to becoming a foster parent. So if you are considering fostering and you are worried about the added expenses of taking care of another child, know that this isn't an issue. It will take a lot of sacrifice and hard work from other areas of your life but at least there is peace of mind knowing that you won't be stuck with mounting medical bills or having to pay for everything out of pocket.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
Mark 9:37

Which "type" of kids did you sign up for?

We are open to 2 siblings ages 0-4. We didn't set parameters for race or gender.


The only preferences we had were for age and medical issues. Since we have 2 young children already, we feel that taking in children of the same age group would be the best fit for all of us. We are open to mild medical conditions like asthma, food allergies, etc. Anything beyond that we would need to know the specific details before committing. Neither one of us have any medical background outside of what our own children have experienced and we feel unequipped to handle any major medical conditions without proper training.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Are you fostering or adopting?

Unfortunately we can't answer this question definitively. We would love to adopt but there is no way to guarantee that as the end result until parental rights have been terminated. The state always seeks reunification with biological family so in order for the adoption process to even begin, not only do the parents have to either voluntarily sign their rights away or have them taken away by a judge, but every other biological family member has to say no to taking the kids as well. There are a million variables and every case is different. It is impossible to know going into this how it's going to end and we definitely don't want to set ourselves up for heartache by having false expectations. So we are going into this with a day-to-day focus and the attitude that we are here to help these kids and meet them in their need. If that need is temporary, then so be it.

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

Why have you decided to foster TWO kids? 

When we initially went into this we hadn't even considered taking more than 1 child. The thought hadn't even crossed our minds. But when we heard about the huge need to keep siblings together, God was quick to work in our hearts again. I had dream after dream about something happening to Rick and I and then our children being separated. So we started discussing what it would look like for us to add 2 children to our home. Obviously in some ways it will be more difficult. Having 4 kids will not always be easy. Especially since all of them will be 4 years old and under. We only have a 3 bedroom house so we had to bunk the kids together. We had to buy a minivan to accommodate 4 car seats. The list goes on. But to us, the benefit of keeping a sibling set together far outweighed any challenges. These kids will be losing everything. Their parents, their homes, their belongings...everything. How huge would it be to at least have your brother or sister to cling to as you begin the healing process? To not feel completely isolated or different from your new family?

We aren't certain we'll get two kids. There is a chance we will be placed with just one, and that would be fine with us. Our main goal is to just be flexible and available and willing to help where the greatest need is.

 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Acts 20:35

When will you be getting your placements?

That right there is the million dollar question. As of last week, we are officially a licensed and open home. So now we wait. We have had a newborn placement that didn't materialize and were also scheduled to do respite care for 2 children that fell through as well. It is very challenging for a Type A person like myself to not be able to plan. We could literally get a call at any moment and go from 2 kids to 4 within a couple of hours notice. I am definitely learning some valuable lessons in patience and flexibility. I remind myself hourly that God has already chosen the kid(s) for us. He knows their names, their ages, their personalities, their circumstances, and the exact time they will arrive to our house and all of the details are in his perfect will. When I'm feeling anxious or unsettled I find peace in that.

Most likely, the children will be coming straight from their home to us so this could happen at any hour of the day or night, depending on when they are taken into custody. It is bittersweet to know that while we are excited that they will be joining us soon, it means that they are going through some ugly and hurtful things right now. We are definitely praying for them as we wait to welcome them to our home.

How can I help?

Many people have asked us this and we are extremely grateful for the support. The biggest way to help is to simply pray for these kids and the transition into our family. We don't know their ages yet so we don't know what size clothes or diapers to buy or if we'll need any baby gear. But luckily we've saved most of what our kids used. If you are looking for another huge way to help it would be to go through the process of becoming an approved babysitter. The state requires anybody who babysits foster children to be CPR/First Aid certified, be FBI fingerprinted, and have a background check run by our agency. We have to maintain 30 hours of training courses each year and childcare is not provided.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11


If you have a question I haven't answered here please don't be afraid to ask. You can call, email, or even leave it in the comments as anonymous if you're feeling shy. :)



3 comments:

Tienna said...

I love this post!! Shame on anyone that isn't humbled and in awe of your family's decision to change lives (even your own lives) in such an inspiring way. I'm so proud of you guys and excited to see what the future holds!! And if I was closer, I would totally be signing up for those babysitting classes, trust you me. ;)

Garcia Family said...

I heard somewhere that if you are following God's will and submitting to it...to expect push back and negativity from the world and it's culture. Gods ways are not of this worlds and thus most will not understand the reasoning behind our decisions. Stay strong..and know that Jesus shines through everything you do! ; )

Donna J Howard said...

My Dear Kelsey and Rick, I am so very blessed to have met you and just be a part of your lives!! My heart is just so filled with love and happiness for you and your family.

Those little children will be sent from God to his wonderful "Angels" He has placed here on earth! God Bless your family! Love Donna

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