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Archive for the ‘foster parenting’ Category

Have you ever met an individual that is so rare and special that you could compare them to a valuable gem?  Let me tell you about such a person, Jessica Angelique, who has a passionate mission in life to shine a light on life changing non for profit organizations.  Jessica has had an interesting life full of ups and downs and because of that she has dedicated her life to making the world a better place.  Her heart has been drawn to organizations that help build people up and educate them; which allows them to positively impact the world for the better.  She is in need of help to continue to expand her ability to impact the world by educating them through a wonderful opportunity called the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Pepsi is offering up an opportunity to win a $250,000 grant to those who win the most votes in their category.  Jessica Angelique is the creator and executive director of Definitive Voices.   She is also an author who has written of her life’s journey; navigating through the challenging foster care system into a positive, purpose filled adulthood.   She uses her voice to empower people and organizations to be aware and proactive in their communities to build up those in need.

Through Definitive Voices Jessica uses social media to shine a light on individuals and organizations that are doing their best to help people improve the world through education, awareness, and hands on action that is changing the lives of those they encounter.  Jessica needs your help by getting you to go to this link and vote for her Definitive Voices so that she can expand her ability to positively impact the lives of others.  It only takes a couple of seconds once you register and sign in using an active email and a Pepsi password.  Here is the link to cast your vote daily until the 28th of February: http://www.refresheverything.com/definitivevoices(more…)

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       Baby don’t cry…it is not your fault.  When you are old enough to know your story…know that it is not your fault.  It has happened for generations…people abandon their children.   It is wrong, but they do it for many reasons…all sad reasons, all heartbreaking…but, what it comes down to is a lacking.

        A lacking of something that is required to parent you little one.  Some parents are lacking money, some are lacking appropriate housing or clothing, some are lacking parenting skills.  Even worse, some are lacking a very basic, important connection…a bonding of parent to child; it is called love.  This is not normal.  This is not your fault.  The lacking is theirs and theirs alone; don’t let it define you.  Their failure to provide what you need does not wipe away your right to have those things that children need to grow and be whole.   You deserve to have what every child should have…love and acceptance. 

       There are many who would adopt you; love you and give you everything you need to be successful in life.  It is sad that your birth parents could not for whatever reason of lacking, be the people to give you what you need.  However, when you are able to read and understand it all…hopefully, you will have been adopted and cared for appropriately.  I hope that you received that love; and, now know that you are part of a family who wanted you, and needed you to be part of them.  The parts of you that feel empty or unfulfilled, because of the unknowns about your birth family, probably will never be fully satisfied.  Let it be enough to know that the circumstances that lead to your being abandonned are not a statement of anything that was wrong with you as a person.

         A small newborn child was abandoned in Charlotte, North Carolina in the last few days.  Children are being abandoned all around the world.  There are many who would love these children were they to enter into the foster/adoptive legal system in the right kind of way.  Why are parents dumping their children?

        When you are able to read this, or some other piece that addresses such issues…and  you have learned about your abandonment; don’t try to seek further information.  It will only hurt you more.  There are no answers that will satisfy your heart’s desire to be loved and accepted by the people who gave you up.  For each answer that is given to justify such actions will just trigger another “what if you had done this or that…could you have kept me then” question.  It is a never ending circle of emotional hurt.   

        It is not a reflection upon you…babies and children are easy to love.  You have done nothing wrong to be rejected…it is a fault inside of that person that by some miracle was able to give you life.  Unfortunately, abortion (infant death) is an option in today’s world..so, choosing life was a very positive thing.   Maybe that is the most that they had to give you; LIFE, it IS an important gift. 

       Your true source of life comes from God above.  You are here in this world because he values you…you are here for a purpose.  Discover what your purpose is and live it to the fullest…do not be destroyed by feelings of rejection or inferority.  You are worthy of all the best that life has to give you.   Your beginnings do not have to set a  negative standard for the rest of your life.  Take your gift and all that you have been able to receive and enjoy since the time of your birth and make something of yourself.  Be a giver, be an encourager…be the embodiement of what your birth parents lacked.  Be a giver and a receiver of Love.  Do you think that the impact of your birth can make a positive difference in the world?   I do, every life has value to offer the world.  Reader, do you know someone who has been rejected or abandoned…were they able to turn their difficult beginnings into a positive, productive life?

      

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        Another family has made the news by dropping off their children, 9 of them from ages 1 to 17 at a hospital in Nebraska.  It is in my mind, in cases of abandonment, almost as if the children are treated like a litter of unwanted puppies.  In mid July, Nebraska made its own news headlines by instituting a “safe haven law”. 

         Most states in the US have some sort of a safe haven law which is designed to protect children who are either unwanted; or, in unsafe environments regarding living conditions, or in situations of neglect or abuse.  The safe haven laws are meant to allow a safe place for children to be left such as a hospital or a fire station.  What is unique about the new law in Nebraska is that it doesn’t clarify who has the authority to drop off said children…it could be a baby sitter, grandparent, parent, neighbor or what have you.  Another important point, most of the states that implement safe haven laws usually are set up to protect infants.  Nebraska made headlines by not limiting the reach of the safe haven laws to infant only drop offs…it basically says “minors”…leaving the new law open to interpetation.

         The courts will have to clarify the definition of the safe haven law so that the protection of the children and the people who abandon them is more clear.  At the moment, anyone under the age of 19 is allowed to be dropped off in a safe haven.  There will be no legal repercussions as long as abuse or neglect is not involved.  In some ways, this may help those situations where we read about newborn infants born to teen mothers who are dumped in a garbage can or left outside alone.  Maybe in those cases, some children will be saved…but, this new law opens up a whole new set of issues regarding children and their families.

         I know that the law was set up in good faith…to protect the children.  However, you have to wonder about the psychological damage to those same children who are old enough to understand that they have been abandoned by the people most trusted in their lives.  An infant does not comprehend the abandonment until they are older and the information is presented to them…an older child certainly does understand the idea of abandoment and there certainly will ensue emotional and psychological damage.  However, i will say an infant may not understand the full scope of abandonment; but, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t affected by it; when they are affected, it is often called an attachment disorder…where the baby has trouble bonding with their caregivers, either giving or receiving love…sometimes, it is even turned into a failure to thrive.  All human beings deserve to be loved and wanted.

         Studies have been done on babies or infants who have been abandoned in other countries and left in orphanages…if they do not get enough human interaction that shows love or caring…those children can actually die from the lack of human, loving touch.  Don’t think that when an infant is dropped off, even at a safe haven…that they won’t know the difference between being wanted and unwanted.

         People who find themselves in desperate circumstances may be tempted to go the route of the safe haven in a moment of extreme duress.  However, the long term consequences make me wonder whether this is a viable option.  People who abuse or neglect their children willingly or freely are not going to be so very concerned about making sure that the place they abandon their child is considered a safe place.  It would be better to put into place programs that facilitate helping families who are in danger of imploding. 

         Not to mention, those parents or caregivers who are feeling desperate…say…in a financial crisis…they can’t afford to feed or house their children…may think that this safe haven is an option for them.  The consequences of such an action could be considered permanent…even if their circumstances change in time.  Their custody could be forever impacted by that one moment of temptation to abandon the children in a safe place. 

         I wonder if other options are being given as much media & legal attention, such as making a short term placement with social services; for short term foster care in cases where, say a housing or financial need is threatening the ability to keep a family together? 

          Children aren’t like litters of animals…not that animals should be abandoned either!  Being a pet owner or a parent is a huge responsiblity…the demands are serious.  People should not enter into the role of a pet owner or parenting without alot of thought!  Parents need to take their commitment to parenting seriously. 

          If a parent is considering abandoning their children…wouldn’t it be better to work with an agency and make a permanency plan such as adoption?  Definately, if that were the case, doing it in infancy is better than waiting until a child is old enough to be scarred by an emotional and physical abandonment by their parents or caregivers.  At least by making sure that the child/children were placed in a safe and loving home…a child would have a chance to grow up and to be nutured in a loving environment. 

          No one should ever be made to feel unwanted, unloved or unprotected.  Abandonment leaves permanent scares that impact their young lives and often, other generations of lives as well.  What are your feelings on the safe haven laws?

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       In Texas, an appeals court overruled the state’s decision to remove the children of the sect, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The appeals court has found that the CPS department had not proven evidence of immediate danger of physical health or safety of children who had not reached puberty.  The court also said that their beliefs, in and of themselves, did not place children in danger of abuse.

          This is a victory for the 41 mothers who brought the suit against the state for removing their children.  Initially, the state had said that 31 of the mothers were under the age of 18.  It has since been determined that 15 of that 31 are OVER the age of 18.  What that means, for the other mothers, isn’t clear.

        Does this mean that the children will be returned back to their families?  No one seems to know for sure.  The ruling is being reviewed.  It is possible that the 450 children who were removed; could be removed from temporary foster care and returned to their families. 

          No one really seems to mention the fathers.  It is almost as if by accusing some of the fathers of sexually abusing young women…they all are guilty by association.  This is wrong.  Damage has been done to “whole” families…some of them may even be “INNOCENT”. 

          Part of the problem here is that in America, we are supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty.  That didn’t really happen here.  Truthfully, children need to be protected.  However, in “protecting” them…the system damaged others.  This whole case is disturbing.  Allegations that can be proven true, of abuse, are horrendous…and should be prosecuted.  Those who were under suspicion and are proven to be innocent have been done a great injustice.

          The mothers had been represented by the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.  TRLA is a non-profit organization.  They help people, in southwestern Texas, with low income to receive legal services.  http://www.trla.org/   TRLA has been instrumental in helping these mothers to find a pathway to once again regain custody.  Update 5-23-08  Today it was announced that the state of Texas child welfare officials will appeal this landmark decision.  In a notification to the court the state says that a motion will be filed later today!   Keep watching to see what happens….as the outcome will surely define the limits or lack of limits on the department of child welfare that the courts will enforce.  This affects us all!!! 

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       Raising children is one of the most important things a person can do.  It not only impacts a family; it impacts communities, businesses, organizations and individuals.  Raising children well; it is an art form.  In our world today, there are many things pulling at a family unit trying to divide it and conquor it.  It’s become the norm to expect families to break up; it is almost extra-ordinary to see a family survive all that life throws at it.

       There are those around us who struggle in ways that we cannot see.  There are stresses that are normal; and then, there are those which have the ability to wreak havoc on our inter-personal relationships. 

        Un-expected pregnancies are one such stressor.  Un-planned pregnancies, no matter the age or marital status of the parents, can overload those involved; due to financial pressures, health issues, as well as, the emotional well-being of the parents. 

        Making a choice to become a parent is an important step; whether you become a parent biologically, or through the adoption process.  Each life that is conceived is precious and full of promise.  A pregnancy should be cause for celebration; however, sometimes circumstances can complicate the miracle of life.  Those type of situations are when the adoption option becomes a lifeline for those affected.

         Organizations such as Bethany Christian Services are just, such a lifeline.  Of course, they offer more than just adoption services; there is counseling, foster care, estate planning, pregnancy counseling, post adoption care, orphan care, infertility ministry and embryo services.  They are all about building, healing, and restoring families here in the United States and around the world.

        If your heart if full of blessings…or if you have a need…go to this link and check them out.  If your heart has been burdened by the complications of life; and, you have been touched by something greater than yourself…can you find a way to give back?  Support Bethany Christian Services either through a financial donation or maybe just by volunteering your time.  Check them out here:  www.bethany.org.  

          Do you see the suffering of those all around the world and feel helpless to do anything about it?  Those who are lonely, without the basic necessities of life, poor, starving, homeless or just without someone to love them; they need help.   Many of us do see the conditions of the world and suffer a sense of guilt at our own good fortune.  Do you feel something within your heart calling you to make a difference?  We all do…don’t turn off that sensitivity to the hurts in the world.  You can make an impact!

          Maybe you already have the gift of making an impact; but, you wish to find ways of increasing that skill…may i suggest a book that will open windows into the system or skill set that will broaden your abilities to impact the world in a positive way?  It was written by Ken McArthur…a man who has felt the need from childhood to impact the world in a positive way.    The world is a big place with lots of needs.   You have a lot to offer, even if you don’t think that you do.  Find out what it is that you were created to do and be.  Read the book, make a commitment to channel positive energy into some kind of a lasting legacy…and make it happen!

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       Here is a story i could sink my teeth into since i am the parent of several special needs children.  A young boy, by the name of Adam Race, has been banned from the church that he has attended since 1996.  He has been banned because he is autistic, and is very large.   He has several behavioral challenges that the church is suggesting endangers other attendees.

        Adam’s priest by the name of Daniel Walz has filed a restraining order against the 13 year old’s parents; which the mother has violated.  Understand that Adam is only 13; however, he is six feet tall and weighs somewhere around 225 pounds.  The sheer size of the young man is definately something to consider. 

       The priest alledges that Adam has struck another child during services and that in his zeal to leave the building, has at times almost knocked over elderly parishioners.  Adam has also run out of the building and, started a couple of vehicles to hear the “calming roar of the engines”.  This is another danger concern.   Adam sometimes has a problem holding his urine; and, if he needs to be restrained during difficult behaviors, he fights it.  The mother and father, do at times, have to restrain him.  This can all be quite disruptive; and that, plus the concerns for safety, has led the priest to file the restraining order.  The priest felt they had no other choice.

        It seems that before that filing, the priest and a church trustee attempted to discuss their concerns with Adam’s parents.  They offered the family other options and accomodations to deal with the behavioral issues.  The family refused.  It hasn’t been revealed what those other accomodations were.  The family has defied the restraining order and continued to attend church with their son.  By the way, this is a family of seven.

       I have special needs children as i said before.  I have also been a foster parent to many special needs children who were behaviorally challenged.  I know the stress of that.  I know the need of sitting in church to receive peace and a strengthening of my faith.  I also, am well aware that most of the time…it is much more stressful trying to achieve that goal of peace and strength in a very public setting with others who have no idea of the daily struggles living and providing for special needs young people requires.

        You see, you need special training to deal with some of the behaviors and special requirements.  So you can’t just happily send a special needs child off to a sunday school classroom with people who are unprepared or untrained in those skills. 

        My husband and I have been teachers in several church settings.  We know what it is like to be the teachers or instructors in charge .  We have had to teach and sometimes handle special needs children or teens in that environment as well. 

          One time, we did have a young man who was also very large for his age and autistic.  It was a child that did not attend regularily, this program was a vaction bible school event.  The platform was a raised one.  All of the children were encouraged to stand in front of the platform during praise and worship.  Then, when that was done, they were encouraged to sit down in the rows of pews.  The young man in question, at one point, ran to the front while the puppets were performing.  My brother- in- law, who was a weight lifter, was operating a large puppet that included having his arm encased in a fur lined sleeve.

       The young man ran up on stage and grabbed my brother-in-laws arm and pulled it down over the front of the puppet stage and almost broke my brother-in-laws arm.  It took several people to disengage him.  It was something we were un-prepared for.  The parents had dropped him off during the services and left.  This was unusual…because the other days of that week, they had stayed with him and helped to keep him under control when he would get overly excited.  Communication is key in these situations.  Educate the workers or volunteers to the special skill sets that they will need to work with special needs youths successfully!

        Most of the time, having special needs children in church is workable.  You discuss with the family members or care givers what works for each child as an individual.   Maybe you can even get the parents to help volunteer in the children’s program to help out. You do your best so that the caregiver can get a couple of hours of peace and “down time” from the strains of 24/7 caregiving, if possible.   Raising awareness about those who live with special needs children and providing support is the goal of this website:  http://www.growingupspecial.com/  (more…)

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        Today I went to a mother/daughter celebration sponsored by a church ladies group.  I celebrated motherhood with two of my daughters and with my granddaughter as well as my mother and one of my sisters.  It was great.  We had a good time, we took pictures, we played games had good music and food…but, the biggest gift was just the opportunity to spend time together.

      My mother has had a very difficult couple of years with health issues.  I was gifted with a good and loving mother.  I try to make it a point to say and show how much she is loved and needed.  I could have lost her several times in the last several years…so, i dont want to waste any time that i have with my mom.

        I think how fortunate I am.  Mother’s day is meant to be a celebration but sometimes it is very painful.  For those who have lost their mothers or for those from dysfunctional homes…mother’s day can be painful.  For parent’s who have lost their children…mother’s day..is a reminder of the lack of future and present time with their deceased children. 

       Fathers and husbands are parents because of their wives…the mother of their children…celebrate them—no they aren’t your mother…but you chose them to be the mother of your children so honor them.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift…just acknowledge the importance of what they do…day in and day out! 

        So, if you are lucky enough to have a mother figure in your life….feel blessed…share your day with someone who doesn’t if you know they are hurting.  Say a prayer for those who are lonely or sad  on this special holiday.  If you need to mend fences with a mother/step mother; and, it is a healthy or safe thing to do; do so (if it will cause no further harm to you or her) then, mend those fences.  Life is too short.  You never know how long you will have with the mother or mother figure you have in your life…dont find yourself with a plate full of regrets or should’ve, would’ve, could’ve  done this or that.  Most of all, connect with the special people in your life!  Tell them what they mean to you.

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        Here is a news item that will make your head spin.  Think you are a good parent? What if you made a simple, honest mistake?   Do you understand that a simple misunderstanding could cause you to loose the custody of your child to a government agency…even for just a few days?  Child Protective Services is such of a powerful agency that even common sense can be overridden, at times, when the zeal to “protect” child from abuse or neglect.

       In theory, CPS is in the business of keeping kids safe from abuse and neglect.  In it’s worst form….they cause irreparable damage.  I read an article today referring to a case of a father who went to a Tiger’s ballgame at the CoAmerica ballfield in Detroit.  He had his 7 year old son with him.

       The father bought them some Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  For those of you who don’t know…it has alcohol in it.  The father did not know this.  The father works out of the country alot.  A security guard spotted the boy holding his bottle and confiscated it…and then, had the boy taken to an ER to be checked out.  From there it only gets worse.  CPS was called and the child was taken to foster care; this, all because of a lack of knowledge that the lemonade had liquor in it. 

       The child was checked out at the ER…and there was no measurable amount of liquor in his system.  Still the child was placed in foster care.  There was an aunt who is a social worker and foster parent, who lived in new england; she drove all night to get to Michigan to take custody of the boy.  When she got here…they told her she had to have a hotel room which she promptly went to get.

       By the time she got back to CPS they had placed the child into a foster home which they would not disclose to the family.   A CPS worker, and a police officer said that placing the child into foster care was not necessary in their opinion; but, the supervisors insisted. The police officer at the hospital after interviewing the parties involved believed it was an honest mistake.  I am all for balancing safety and well being for children…but, it must be balanced with common sense.

        Eventually, after the department forced the father to leave his own home for a week…the child was returned to his mother after two days of foster care. 

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         There are alot of things in life that are disappointing.  Parenting is one of those areas in life where we really desire and expect to excell.  I don’t know why we expect things to turn out well when there is no exact parenting plan to follow.  When a child is full grown and turns out well; meaning that they are productive, respectful, well- educated, and, showing caring and concern for others…it is no small feat.

           In today’s society, in America, it seems successful parenting is almost a rarity.  If you can get a child through elementary school without being expelled for violence, sexual harrassment, bullying, profanity, drug/alcohol use; well then, you are considered a paragon of virtue.

         You see we allow our kids to be exposed to violence on television 4 or 5 hours a day, we dont filter what they see in between shows regarding commercials with more skin than a newborn baby exposes, sexual innuendo’s on “family entertainment shows”, magazines with suggestive pictures and titles, we have lowered the bar on the level of respect that is reflected in their conversations, and their behaviors are over the top because consequences are not consistent. 

           Let me tell you, stepping into the schools today is a bit like stepping into another world…even children as young as elementary school aged children are not immune from these types of issues.  The lack of discipline, manners, respect and appropriate behaviors is staggering. Teachers have a thankless job.  Chaos reins in the classroom because the teachers have to spend so much time dealing with behaviors that educating the children often comes in second place to discipline. 

           Moving on to middle school is no less disallusioning.  The negative attitudes and behaviors have only amplified into open contempt.  By this age, many students have been led to believe that they are their own person and as such really do not have to listen to their parents.  Rebellion has taken on a life of it’s own.  Even students who wish to learn in school have trouble doing so because of the chaos going on around them in school. 

           Schools officials try to have more influence on the kids as many households have no control over their children whatsoever.   When they can’t control the kids…they call in law enforcement.   Some schools even  hand out condoms and medical advice, refusing to inform the parents because of privacy issues!!!  Say what?  Who’s child is this?  Who is legally responsible for providing for that child…not the school, surely.

           When the troubles come…and they do…then the system pulls in the parents and expects them to correct the situation or control the child.  The parental authority has been diminished by each and every person who trys to chip away at that God given authority….whether it be a school counselor, sports coach, the students very own peers, organizational leaders or whomever it may be.  It can’t be both ways…others can’t be in control of the students and still expect the parents to have the same influential authority that they should have had from the beginning.

         High School…now here is the real breakdown.  Parents are a killjoy.  They are always telling their children no.  They are trying to control their teens.  Rules are meant to be broken; right?  Yet when it comes right down to it…who is left with the responsibility when the teens have crossed the line…and entered into something illegal, immoral, or something self-destructive?  It is the parents.    Is it any wonder that many families are broken beyond repair?  We need to get back to having appropriate boundaries and expectations; so that our children know that they are loved and that they have someone close to them who cares what happens to them.

              It should be the most natural thing in the world, to turn to your parents when a kid finds themselves in trouble.  Often they are not the first person that a kid turns to.   Many times, it is a misquided, ill-informed, or rebellious peer; or, another enabling adult who wants to befriend the teen in some ignorant attempt to feel better about themselves.  This is the environment we are raising our children in today. 

         So, when a teen or preteen comes into your presence and complains about the evil parent they have at home…listen to the complaints carefully before you are pulled in.  It could just be a venting session like every other teen in the history of time.  If it is a genuine situation that needs intervention, such as real abuse or neglect, then by all means…recommend they talk to a professional. 

          Parenting isn’t easy; parenting when you are a teen is even more difficult.  When people decide to have children…they don’t think of all of the problems to come their way in the future.  When starting a family…you dream of the good things to come your way; and that is how it should be.  Parenting shouldn’t be mainly about disappointments…it should be about successes.

        

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        There have been reports allegedly linking a woman from Colorado, to the reports of abuse in the case of young woman and children in the Texas sect of Fundalmentalist Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who practice polygamy.  This same woman, Rozita Swinton, has been accused of filing false reports as recently as April 16 in another case.

          The problem is…the supposed victim that called in the report…is missing; if she exists at all.  Now, all of these young woman and children/teens have been removed and seperated from their families and many have been placed into foster care.  Is all of this trauma for naught? 

           Legally, if they can’t find the alledged victim…is there even a case?  And obviously, if there are cases of young woman who are forced or coerced into marriage with adult husbands before they are 18 years of age and are having babies…that is against the law.  So, what if all of these children go through this removal and seperation only to have the case thrown out….this is a terrible cost…all of this emotional damage.

          Will the legality of this whole intervention be challenged?  What will happen to the women and children who have been put in this horrible circumstance.  Will they find the help they need to go on and live a normal life?  What about all of the children in foster care…will they be reunited with appropriate family members?

           Even if it is proven that this woman Rozita Swinton lied and had no knowledge of actual abuse…will those same young woman and children be protected from further “real” sexual and emotional abuse?  Things to think about here, definately.

       

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