Our Daughters and our Sons | Patty

fostering hope image

I recently went on a hike to take some time to be alone with the Lord. It was beautiful, the weather had not yet turned ridiculously hot, and so I hiked up the mountain, just me and Jesus. And while walking, I was listening to a song by Audio Adrenaline called “Kings and Queens“. If you haven’t heard it, you need to – it is powerful! And I was suddenly struck by a thought.  Foster kids aren’t just “someone else’s kids”.  They are the son or daughter to a foster or adoptive parent they may have never met.

Can you imagine how different things would be if we thought of foster children as our own, instead of someone else’s child? We would walk through fire for our biological children, but for a foster child, we are held back by our fear of the unknown. What if they were exposed to drugs? What if they have behavioral problems? What if they were abused? What if, what if, what if? If someone had told you not to have biological children because they could have challenges, would that have stopped you from having kids?

Since fostering and eventually adopting our daughter, my heart has been burdened for children in the foster care system. Foster children are not often seen (meaning we don’t know they are foster kids), and their stories not often heard (we don’t want to hear what they have been through- it’s too painful). It was only when I walked through the path of foster care toward adoption, that I could finally see and understand the complexity of this system. If you have never experienced the state foster care system, let me enlighten you. Currently, there are over 400,000 children in foster care at any given time. Their stories are heartbreaking, their wounds are deep, and they need you.  My daughter entered foster care at birth, but she still feels the pain of not growing up with her birth parents and siblings.

Foster kids are strong, brave and yet scared at the same time, and they want permanency – the safety and security that comes from having someone to call mom and dad, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and a place to call home. They are not drug babies, problem children, or a hopeless cause. They are not the circumstances they were born into; they are not responsible for the choices of their birth parents. They have the same potential as you and me, and were created for divine purpose, just like you and me.

Psalm 139:13-16 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

They could be your daughters and your sons. They are waiting for you. I don’t say that flippantly, or romantically. Taking in a child from foster care can be challenging. But as a Christian, I believe that we are called to stand in the gap for these children.  We are not meant to be their savior- Jesus is their savior.  But we are called to step forward and love them like Jesus would. It is time for true believers to step forward, to be the light in the darkness, to show them the transformational and unconditional love of Christ.

So what can you do?

  1. Become a foster parent or foster-to-adopt parent. It is not easy and there is no guarantee that you will be able to adopt a child that is placed with you. In fact approximately half of the children that enter foster care each year, return to their biological parents. But there are children who are languishing in the foster care system with no plan for permanency (aka no one willing to adopt them). So if you have thought about it, and don’t know the next steps to take, think that you can’t afford it, or that you would never be approved as a foster parent, please reach out, and we will put you in touch with people that can walk you through the process.
  2. Become a respite care provider. For anyone who is not ready to foster or adopt, but wants to help care for a foster child on a short term basis, respite care is a great option. Respite providers care for foster kids on a short term basis – a few hours or possibly a few days at a time to give foster parents a much needed break. If this is an option for you, please reach out.
  3. Meet a need. Foster families often find themselves in need of the most basic items. It is not uncommon for a foster parent to receive a call that children need to be picked up, and find that the child(ren) needs clothes, shoes, diapers, or even a car seat or crib.  If you cannot volunteer your time, but can meet a tangible need, please reach out.  Your gift will meet a need and be a HUGE blessing.
  4. Be a friend, extended family, and prayer partner for a foster child or foster family. Aside from the tangible needs, one of the most valuable thing you can give a foster family is your love, friendship and prayers. It takes a village to raise a child, and for many foster children, they have been uprooted from and lost contact with their community. So helping to build relationships encourages healthy attachment, emotional security, and a sense of normalcy that these children need.

There are several organizations that are helping foster families in your community. Here are a few that we recommend:

  1. ChildShare
  2. AdoptUSKids
  3. Rays of Light Philanthropic
  4. Families Like Ours (FLO)
  5. Olivecrest

Everyone can do something. If you are ready to take the first step, and learn more about how you can help, please reach out to one of these great organizations.

Blessings,

Patty

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Online Wellness Event: Tomorrow Only

Hi Friends,

I am excited to tell you about an online wellness event that is happening tomorrow, Saturday, February 26th at 11 am PST via Zoom.  The event is focused on helping families with special needs children learn how to use nutrition to give your kids the best life possible.  You will hear testimonies from real parents and the differences they have seen in the health of their children because of this incredible program.

You can also request to join the Private Facebook Page created for this event: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1680646048855437/

I hope you can join us!

-Patty

P.S. Here is the login information for the event:

Healthy Living for Children and Families
This Saturday, February 27 at 11 AM PST, 1 PM CT, 2 PM EST.

Click the link to join: https://zoom.us/j/935703237

Child and Family Wellness

 

November is National Adoption Month

National Adoption Day

National Adoption Day

 

November 22nd is National Adoption Day. This month you might notice news outlets, organizations, and even Facebook friends posting stories or opinions along this theme. This month is very special to several of us here at Three Strands Ministries because we have become or hope to be foster and/or adoptive parents. This month you will here from us about Foster Care and Adoption. We hope that you will relate to our stories, share them with someone who is a Foster or Adoptive parent, and consider opening your heart and your home to a child in need. For those of you who have never adopted and are wondering what the fuss is about, here are some important facts regarding National Adoption Day:

What is National Adoption Day?

Every year on the  Saturday before Thanksgiving thousands of children, their soon-to-be-parents, and local social workers assemble at their local courthouse to finalize their adoption. Some children are adopted from birth. Others were swept into the Foster Care system and wait several years before they are adopted, and, in some cases adult children (18 or older) are officially adopted by their parents.  Each family has their story, which has led to this culminating event. It is not the end of their story, but simply the end of a chapter and the beginning of another. If you would like more information about National Adoption Day, we recommend you click on this link nationaladoptionday.org .

Why is this Adoption Day different from other Adoption Days throughout the year?

This is the time of the year when several states make a big push to finalize the adoptions of kids who are in the foster care system in an effort to ensure that foster children find their forever homes. Typically, more adoptions occur in the month of November than in any other month throughout the year. It is a day of celebration and a time to raise awareness about the needs of foster children

I am interested in foster care and/or adoption.  Where can I find more information?

There are several great organizations across the country that specialize in foster care and adoption abroad and in the U.S. We at Three Strands Ministries recommend the following organizations:

  • Youth For Christ (YFC) for foster care and adoption services (Seattle/Tacoma region)
  • Child Share (LA region)

Is there a way to help foster kids without becoming a foster parent or adopting? I want to help, but I can’t foster or adopt.  What can I do?

There are lots of ways to support Foster and Adopted Families. Here are some ways that you might consider helping a foster/adoptive family:

  • Respite care – Child care for the foster/adoptive parents while they enjoy a date night, run errands, or even go grocery shopping. This is like specialized child care in that you may need some training or to attend a class to know how to care for children with special needs. You will also need to have a background check on file with the child’s social worker. This is easy to obtain and the foster family and their social worker should be able to help you know what needs to be done.
  • Host play dates – Foster/adopted children, for the most part, are just like your kids. There may be some children who have special play needs and a play date may not be appropriate. But for the most part, helping to provide a sense of normal and a safe place to play with friends is important and will be a great encouragement to the kids and their families.
  • Be a friend – Foster moms and dads need someone who is willing to listen and not judge them or their kids. Invite them over for dinner, take them out to  coffee, and just listen.
  • Don’t judge. Offer to help – Sometimes, being a Foster parent can be difficult.  People who are not Foster parents don’t understand the special needs and challenges that come with caring for a child who has been exposed to drugs or alcohol, abuse, neglect or abandonment, and have behavioral, emotional, developmental,  or psychological challenges. So if you see a mom at the checkout stand buying subsidized food who seems overwhelmed by unruly, undisciplined kids, don’t write her off as a bad mom. Instead offer a smile, offer to help carry her things to her car, and just be a blessing.
  • Help raise awareness – Change your profile picture on social media and challenge others to do the same, and help give a voice to the thousands of foster kids who are looking for their forever home.

Join the conversation

Do you have questions about Foster Care or Adoption? Are you a Foster or Adoptive mom and are willing to share your story? Email us your questions or share your story and we will post it on our blog.

The Day You Came Home: a letter to my adopted son | by Britta

Photo credit Debbie Rumpza Photography 2011

Photo credit Debbie Rumpza Photography 2011

To My Dear Son,

It was just another Monday morning. We had finished school the week before and I was on the phone with one of my best friends, Holly. Right before Holly and I hung up I got a beep from my other line. I told her to hold on because the caller ID said it was Rose. I had been waiting for this call for over a month. When I picked up the phone Rose said in an excited voice that she didn’t have time to talk but that I needed to go check my email right away. I clicked back over to Holly and while she was still on the phone I checked my email. There it was in black and white. I read out loud: “He was born over the weekend”. I instantly started to cry and had chills all over my body. What happened over the next few hours became a miracle only God could have orchestrated.

I had been praying for you for 3 months prior to your birth. I knew during that time that you were fighting to live. I didn’t know for sure if I would ever get to hold you in my arms but I felt honored to pray for you and be your spiritual mother.

About an hour after I got the email that you were born the phone rang again. This time it was your case worker from CPS. Her name was Becky. She talked with me and told me about you. She said that she needed to check and see if you were healthy enough to come home. She said you might have to go to a special place called the PICC Center. That’s where babies born affected by drugs go to safely wean from the drugs in their system. I hung up the phone and called daddy. I gave him the update. I also called our adoption agency and told them what was going on. Our adoption counselor called Becky and sent over our home-study. Then not long after that Becky called me back and said that you were ready to come home. I was in shock!! She said that I needed to call your nurse at the hospital to get the details on how and where to pick you up. I called the nurse next and she was so sweet. She said that all the nurses wanted to take you home. I told her I would be there in about 2 hours. I called daddy back but he couldn’t come with me to get you because he was working. So I called Rose back. Remember she’s the woman who called me and emailed me that you were born. She is your aunt and we met her at church and she told us all about you. Aunt Rose asked if she could come with me to pick you up and of course I said YES!!!

It was a long 2 hour car ride to get you but it went by so fast! Aunt Rose and I talked and she told me all about your biological family. We cried and we laughed. When we got to the hospital we went up and met the case worker in the birthing center. They took us to a room. Moments later they brought you into see us. We cried again. You were such a beautiful baby!!!! I asked Aunt Rose if she wanted to hold you and she said that I should hold you first because I am your mama. I told her that I would be honored if she would hand you to me. That was such a special moment and one I will never forget.

The first time I held you in my arms was amazing. I felt like I was going to float away with happiness. I had been waiting for this day for so very long. I fell instantly in love with you. You were not of my flesh, nor of my bone, yet at that moment I knew you were truly my own.

Photo credit Debbie Rumpza Photography 2011

Photo credit Debbie Rumpza Photography 2011

Soon it was time to head home. I dressed you in a sweet little outfit with a hat that said “watch me go”, I fed you, and then put you into your car seat. I buckled you into the van and off we went. I kept telling Aunt Rose to pinch me because I thought I was dreaming. We were so hungry so we stopped for Mexican food. I inhaled my salad so fast I don’t even think I tasted it. I just wanted to hold you!! You didn’t cry a peep all the way home. Once I got to Aunt Rose’s house your two sisters came out to see you. Aunt Rose adopted them and she is now their mommy. They didn’t know you were their brother but they saw you for the first time the day after you were born. I gave Aunt Rose a big, big hug and then got into the van and drove away with you. Just you and me!!

We got home around 8pm to Daddy, Bailey, Simon, and Silas. I had to go to the bathroom so I took you out of your car seat and handed you over to daddy. When I got back I asked them what we should call you. Everyone gave you kisses and we all just couldn’t believe how small you were. We looked you over and felt your soft hair and skin. We talked about lots of names. We wanted a name from the Bible. Simon got out his Bible and started looking. What a glorious day!! We had you home and you were perfect. You are loved so much by so many people!!!

The next morning we all agreed to call you Solomon. It means “Peaceful”. God has given us so much peace through this whole experience. Daddy chose your middle name as Kal-El from the Superman comic books that he liked so much as a child. Superman was adopted by a family who loved him just like we love you. Kal-El means “Voice of God”. We pray you listen to the peaceful voice of God your entire life.

Five long years before your birth God put on my heart that I would have another son…the day you were born His promise was fulfilled. “But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.” 1 Chronicles 22:9

Photo credit Debbie Rumpza Photography 2011

Photo credit Debbie Rumpza Photography 2011

Solomon Kal-El this is only the beginning of your story. I am honored to be your mama. I can’t wait to see what God does in and through your life. Always know how much we love you. You were chosen by God to be chosen by us. Adopted into our forever family on November 22, 2013 after 901 days in Foster Care.

All my love,
Mama

Consider It All Joy | by Breanna

It’s been one year since I sat nervously waiting – they were late. I cleaned, re-cleaned, and organized some more to keep myself busy. I finally saw a car pull into the drive and my heart raced. She’s here. Our social worker got out first and then lifted the most precious little girl out of the back seat and came to the front door. This beautiful girl came bounding in the door, put her backpack down, looked and me and said, “Hi mom,” and at that moment I thought my heart would burst. She was amazing – so resilient and brave for all she’d been through. After the social worker left, we sat in the living room talking and getting to know one another & she spent a lot of time checking out her new bedroom & toys.

One year before that amazing day was another amazing day – our wedding day. We had a beautiful wedding & we couldn’t wait to start our life together and have a family. However, it didn’t happen the way I would have planned – great things never do really. Each month as time ticked by and I still wasn’t pregnant was tough, but I trusted God and knew he would give me the desires of my heart and allow us to have a family, even though sometimes trusting God is hard – we pressed on and prayed a lot. Then one day my husband and I were talking about a tough situation a family member was facing. She had lost her children and they were in foster care. I was still new to the family, and didn’t know the dynamics and history so I kept quiet – all the while my heart was screaming “why don’t those kids live here?!” Months had gone by and one night it just came out, I said to my husband “I don’t understand why those girls don’t live here.” That was all it took to change the course of our cozy life. He agreed and had been struggling with the same thing but too afraid to say it out loud. We made some phone calls that next week, and things begain to move at lightning speed. Within weeks we had our first precious girl moving into our home and a couple weeks after that – we got her little sister as well! We had always agreed that once we had children I would stay home and be a full time mama – so I resigned from a position I loved at a non-profit to be a full time mama to our beautiful two foster daughters.

Not everyone understood our decision and lots of people probably thought we were crazy. However, lots of people rallied around us. I was truly amazed by the generousity of people – within a week we had a twin bed, a crib, a changing table, toys, books, tons of clothes, car seats – pretty much everything we could have ever needed to make these two girls who had been through so much, feel right at home.

God knows what He’s doing

So here we were raising two beautiful daughters and loving every minute of it. Certainly there were challenges – lots of struggles and days of tears and wondering if we made the right choice. None of those compare though to seeing two children thrive, grow, learn, and be comfortable & feel safe. When we started this journey – we didn’t know how long we would have the girls, but the social worker thought that it would be a long term placement with possible adoption. We were a family – the girls knew and loved our parents as grandma & grandpa, hungout and played with all their cousins and aunts & uncles, and fit right in with our church family & friends. Then one day we found out that they would be going to live with their dad. At first honestly I was mad & then so incredibly sad. I felt like I had been punched right in the stomach. I cried a lot. I prayed – I probably should have prayed more. Because slowly God began to change my heart & I could have never imagined this – but I was glad. I was so happy for the girls. They deserve to have their dad in their life. Girls need good dads. I remember sitting in a Bible study of James and Beth Moore said anguish and joy can coexist. I never knew that to be true until now. I felt anguish over losing our girls and joy that they were getting their dad back.

God knows what He’s doing. He knew what He was doing all along. A couple weeks after the girls came to our home, we found out we were expecting! And now we have a beautiful daughter of our very own. But God used this to open our hearts to the foster system & the needs and we plan to go on this roller coaster again and have dreams of international adoption. The coolest thing is that we’ve been able to build a relationship with the girls dad and we still get to be a part of their lives. They call us aunt and uncle now – we have sleepovers – we take them to church & family events and it is awesome. Only God could have weaved these lives together in such a beautiful way & changed our lives so dramatically and amazingly in just one year. God will give you the desires of your heart – it just might not look like you expect. I wanted to be a mama so badly, yet I could have never dreamed that in one year I would get to be the mom for three beautiful girls.

“Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” -James 1:2

If you’re struggling with infertility or some other unfulfilled desire, don’t lose hope & don’t give up. Continually seek God – I know it’s not easy & it’s okay to get mad & be frustrated – God can take it. Just always know that He loves you and He has a plan for you and for your family that you could never even imagine.

What if we had not adopted…Reflections of an Adoptive Mom | by Patty

Have you ever sat back and asked yourself, “What if?”  As an adoptive parent, I have asked this question many times.  “What if we had said no, where would our daughter be?”  “What if we had had our son first, would we have said yes to our daughter?”  How different our life would be, if the “what ifs” really were what had been.

I remember sitting in a courtroom listening to the state make their case to terminate parental rights.  It was heartbreaking.  They do such a good job of making it seem like this child’s parents don’t want her…that if they did, they have done, X, Y, Z.  I remember thinking, “I want her.  I have always wanted her.”  And I thought, how blessed she was to have someone in her life to say those words, “I love you, I want you, and I have always wanted you.  You were the answer to years of tearful prayers and petitions to God.”

I wondered how many children were living this same reality, and there is no one to say, “I love you.  I want you.”  There is no one to rescue them from their reality.  My heart broke.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Perhaps this is not a fair representation of how it really is.  After all, my daughter’s birth mother really did want to keep her, but she couldn’t.  The circumstances that transpired left her with the option to relinquish her parental rights, or her rights would be terminated.  She had to make the most difficult decision of her life, to give up her child, so that her child could be loved and cared for by family that she trusted to care for her baby.  I cannot imagine being in her shoes.

For the longest time, I was angry with my daughter’s birth parents.  Why did they choose drugs over their child?  Why did they behave so irresponsibly?  Why should this child be forced to live with the consequences of their actions?  I was angry.  But then I realized, that it was for this very reason that my daughter came to us, and became ours.  We all had to live in this reality, to deal with the situation as a family, and collectively do what was best for our daughter. 

I don’t understand why we have to endure hardship in order to receive blessing.  Perhaps, the blessing is the manifestation of Isaiah 61:3, “to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

My daughter will grow up in a loving home, knowing that she is wanted, loved, cared for, safe, protected, prayed over, and that her family would not let her get lost in the system.  This leaves me to wonder, what if?

What if the answer to the question, what if…is you.

What if every child grew up in loving home, cared for, clothed, fed, encouraged to be who they were created to be?  What if every child grew up knowing they were wanted, fought for, and cherished for they are, faults and all?  What if we stopped fighting over the little things, like public opinion, or who the best sports team is and focused on our children?  After all, they ultimately decide our future. 

Every year 40,000 children become adults without ever knowing the love and security of a forever home.  They are launched into the world without the benefit of bring trained, prepared, nurtured and protected by someone who loves them unconditionally.  The ones they could have called mom or dad, are no longer there, and their future is decided by someone else.  Their life, their residence, their future, was decided for them, and now, they are alone.   What will happen to these children who would become adults?  Children who move from home to home, never to be adopted, never to have a family they could call their own?  What if the answer to the question, what if…is you.

The greatest gift and the greatest responsibility that God has given us, is our children.  They are a blessing that we have been entrusted with.  Consider the parable of the talents and servant who buried his talent, instead of growing it and multiplying it.  The servant who buried his talent, eventually had it taken away from him and given to one of the other servants.

That is the sum of my prayers for my family- that I will be a good mom- that I will help them, not hinder them.

Now imagine, your child is the treasure that you have been entrusted with.  Are you growing it, nurturing it, and helping him become the man that God created Him to be?  Or are your burying him, holding him back, not investing in what could be?  If you are not, ask yourself, what if you did?

I found that when my children are the most difficult, it is because they simply want me.  They want me to love them, to give them my attention, my affection, my love, my assurance that they are ok, that we are ok.  I will be honest, being a parent is hard…and I am not a parenting expert.  I pray daily to become a better wife and mother, to love my children the way that they need to be loved, to help guide them, and not hinder them, to lead them, to be a better example of Christ’s love, that my husband and I would raise them to be the men and woman that they were created to be – to love God, to serve Him and to tell others about Him.  That may seem like a lot, but that is my heart.  That is the sum of my prayers for my family.  That I will be a good mom, and I will help them, not hinder them.

There are so many times that I feel, inadequate, that I am not equipped, that I am not enough for them.  I wrestle with the call to be a mother, and the need to work outside of the home.  But the Lord is so faithful to remind me, that I am enough.  I don’t have to be everything.  He hears my prayers, and He is everything that I need, and that by simply surrendering to Him, He will do the work.  I am enough, because He is more than enough, and He is all I need.

I Love to Wait!! | by Britta

My youngest had just turned 4 years old. He wasn’t a baby anymore and I wanted more children. Well that door had been closed…my husband and I closed it ourselves. Actually we slammed it shut and said “NO MORE!!”

I realized I had made a horrible mistake. I begged my husband. Can we adopt? Can we reverse our mistake? The answer was always no. I began to pray for more children.

The answer was always no. I began to pray

I have to admit in the beginning I did not like waiting. I actually hated it. I remember going into my closet and crying out to God…sometimes in pain, sometimes in anger. Not sure if this happened but I see myself shaking my fists at God saying “Why would you give me the desire to mother more

children if you weren’t going to allow it?” It was a painful time. A time where I did not feel close to my husband. A time where I cried everyday. A time…a long, long time of waiting.

Five years of waiting…five what? Years? Really?

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 KJV

Looking back on that time in my life I can see where the Lord renewed my strength over and over again. I see His faithful hand guiding and shaping me. Even though at times I thought I would faint from the exhaustion of it all Jesus held me up. It’s interesting to me that through every trial in our lives when we are IN the trial we can’t really see much. We are just in it…in it knee deep, waist deep, and sometimes we feel like we are drowning. But looking back I can see God’s sovereign hand upon it all.” 

Hope changed everything for us

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2010 our friends had just welcomed their 8th blessing a brand new bundle of special awesomeness named Hope…I like to say that Hope changed everything for us. You see, she was born with Downs Syndrome and when she was born my husband’s heart was softened to more children. He told me that we could have more. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. The feeling of such deep love from my husband. In January 2011 we decided we would pursue adoption through foster care. I’ll save the story of our first little guy for next time.

Today 8 years later I can say that it was all worth the wait. I am not the person I was 8 years ago. I have a deeper faith, a deeper love, and a deeper longing for my Savior. I’ve had to wait for many things in my life and after this VERY long wait I can honestly say that…

I love to wait!!!