To the Foster Mom without Kids This Mother’s Day

It was exactly a year ago that my husband and I got the call, “You are certified foster parents.” After 4 months of training, LOTS of paperwork and home studies we were finally able to welcome foster kids into our home.

In the last year we’ve had 8 girls come in our home. The youngest was 7 and the oldest 17. A few stayed a week while others stayed almost a year. I never expected my life to be changed so much by letting these girls into our home. We mostly fostered teen girls this year and it was pretty fun. They taught me slang words, how to contour my face, what the latest fashions were and some even laughed at my jokes. But among those amazing moments there was a lot of low moments. All of them left me with my heart broken a little more each time. Sadly, this Mother’s Day I will be celebrating without any foster kids and that makes me sad.

I recently watched the HBO documentary, “Foster” that premiered this week. The part that left me in sobbing tears was at the end when the single foster mom gets cards, hugs and appreciation from all of her foster kids. I realized that no child I have fostered in the last year will be here for Mother’s Day. Yes, it’s probably conceited of me, but as a mom/foster mom I want to be told sometimes that I am making difference. Why? Because that is my hope as a foster parent. However, I won’t know if I have made a difference for MANY years if at all.

Our last foster teen left about a week ago because she chose to no longer to be in our home. While I have a very beautiful daughter of my own and a son in my growing belly, I will be morning all my girls who are no longer here.

I will mourn because I don’t know how much of an impact I had on them. I will mourn the loss of them because I don’t get to hug and thank them for making me a foster mom. I will mourn them because I may never see them again. I will mourn them because I don’t know if they are safe. But among the mourning I will remember the laughs, the jokes, the new things we taught them while in our home and so much more.

To other foster moms who won’t have kids this year — I feel you. My heart goes out to you. Especially those who don’t have children of their own. I pray you give yourself a moment to mourn the loss of these kiddos who are no longer with you. But like me, try to remember the fun times. Maybe one day we will know the true impact we had on these kids.

To my former foster kiddos who may read this one day: I  want you that Steven and I will always love you as our own children. You guys brought so much joy in our lives and we will be forever changed. If you ever need a home away from home we hope you consider ours. I pray we see you guys again one day!

 

Foster Care and Sex Trafficking: What you need to know

Currently there are 40 million people world-wide trapped in slavery. The industry earns about $150.2 billion dollars a YEAR. One of the major forms of slavery is sex trafficking. Just this past weekend while many of us watched Super Bowl — 18 survivors were freed and 169 traffickers were arrested in Atlanta. One of the biggest holidays for the sex trafficking industry. This issue is a growing epidemic that’s not just impacting poor countries, but underage kids who are some how connected to the foster system.

According to Salendria Mabrey, with Foster Care Newsletter, foster kids are at a higher risk of becoming trafficked.

Huffington Post reported In a 2013 article that child sex trafficking victims who were recovered by the FBI in a nationwide raid — were children from foster care or group homes.

These are just a few eye opening statistics that show how human trafficking impacts the foster system.

If a child is in an abusive situation often times they may run away to protect themselves. However, this makes them extra vulnerability to becoming targets for trafficking. Reports submitted to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, 4,550 in foster care were runaways. Many between the ages of 12 and 17.

Sadly, as a foster parent I have heard stories of kids who don’t run away but are trafficked by family members. Another reason why these kiddos end up in foster care.

The longer I’ve been fostering the more stories I hear about kids being trafficked here in Indiana. In the first 6 months of 2018, there were over a 1,000 calls to report trafficking and over 700 victims in the state of Indiana. This is according to the Human Trafficking Hotline statistics.

I’ve even spoken to service providers who say its harder to place kids from sex trafficking situations. One reason is because many are teens.

Among the fostering world any teen is hard to place compared to a baby or younger child. Many foster families are terrified of teens so these victims linger in group homes. But what they need is a foster home willing to love them and help them heal. Another reason is because foster families have no clue how to deal with an older child who has been through that kind of trauma. Behavior issues are easy but how do you help a child who has been through sex trafficking?

I don’t have all the answers on how we as a country can tackle this issue. I’ve followed and advocated for sex trafficking victims for many years and will continue to do so. Now, I’m personally seeing the issue a little closer because of the foster system. I believe we can make a difference no matter if you are a foster parent or not.

6 Things you can do TODAY.

1. Educate yourself on human trafficking. Learn more about what it means and how it impacts victims.

2. Learn the signs. Understand the language used towards victims, ways they are lured into trafficking and how to recognize victims.

3. Spread awareness about why porn sites are a gateway to sex trafficking. Many of those girls are victims who are underage. When you engage in those sites you are supporting this.

4. Be open to fostering a child who has been through Sex trafficking. Educate yourself on what to expect and how to help them cope with the healing process. Take training on the topic. Talk to survivors if you can about ways to parent a child overcoming that trauma.

5. Be open to fostering teens. Many statistics show most victims are teens girls. Yes, younger kids as young as 2 can be trafficked but the main targets are pre-teen to teen girls. Don’t be afraid to foster teens. They have so much to offer if they can only find a loving family and a place to heal.

6. Join the EndIt movement. Today, February 7th is where people come together to spread awareness about human trafficking. Many people mark their hands with red x’s and post photos on instagram and Facebook. It doesn’t seem like much but just making people aware is huge. It’s the easiest thing you can do right now.

Please join millions of others as we spread awareness and educate people on this issue.

Entering the Season of Leaving: When Foster Parents say Goodbye

To Foster Parents Who Take it Personal

5 Ways to Introduce God to Foster Kids Without Being Pushy

Fostering Teens Who Are Surrounded By Weeds

Entering the Season of Leaving: When Foster Parents say Goodbye

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Our days are numbered as our time with one of our foster teens is nearing the end. She has been in our home for over 6 months and sadly, she will soon be leaving. This is not our first time saying goodbye to a foster kid. It’s actually our sixth time saying goodbye.  But this time may be one of the hardest.

This dear girl came to us with amazing behavior but a lot of baggage. Ironically, I saw her in a dream about 4 months before I ever knew she existed. I still remember the day she got out of the car and I saw her through the window. My heart dropped because that was the same girl I had a dream about. I didn’t know what our relationship would be like but I knew it would be special.

Over the last 6 months, Steven and I have had the chance to show her love, teach her about God and watch her grow. She is not the same girl who came to live with us months ago. She has a happy facade now. Even though she is still struggling in some areas she has learned a lot. She even gave her life to Christ and got Baptized while here. I would like to say we can take credit, but it was a group of people who really showed her what life can be like when you have God.

Fostering is hard, especially when you have to say goodbye to kids who have impacted your life. She has become like a daughter of mine and it’s hard to see her leave. But I also have a peace about it. I feel ready to let her go because as a temporary mom — I feel like she is ready. We have taught her as much as we can while she was here. She has learned how to have God as her foundation — so I am proud to see what she will do as she gets older.

I have many people come up to us and say, “Oh, I couldn’t be a foster parent. I would get too attached. It would break my heart when they had to leave.” It’s funny because when people say that it’s as if they think we some how are NOT impacted by it. That we have a characteristic that allows us to say goodbye with ease. I am here to tell you we don’t. It hurts us all the same. But you know what, I don’t regret showing them love in the small amount of time they were in our home. Our home may be the only place they ever feel that love or are taught what a real family looks like. Why keep that from them? It will forever change their lives. Like our foster daughter — this experience has and will change the outcome of her future. Because we chose to love her and teach her about God.

As parents, we get 18 years with our kids. Yes, that’s a long time but your days are still numbered with them as well. We have a small time to make an impact and prepare them to leave. Yes, God calls every parent to prepare their children to leave their home. To teach them how to handle their own battles they will face as grownups. That’s why it is crucial to take every moment for granted. So really, fostering isn’t much different than parenting your own kids. You just get less time with them.

I am ready to see our girl enter her next journey. She will always have a seat at our table. She knows she is always welcome in our home. Even when she grows up to have a family of her own. I’m so thankful for the time God gave us with her. I pray that we really did make a big impact. That she will always remember us as a good memory in her life. Truth be told, foster kids need that so much. Many have childhoods filled with trauma and they need to see there is hope.

Even though it hurts to see her leave — it also opens ups another opportunity to love another teen girl who needs to hear she is worthy. I will always pray for all the girls we’ve had in our home and the ones yet to come.

I encourage you to open your home to kiddos who could use hope. Don’t be afraid of getting hurt because you have to see them leave so soon. Just love them and teach them as much as you can while they are with you. You never know how much their life may change.

When I Doubt, God Sends a Sweet Reminder

5 Ways to Introduce God to Foster Kids Without Being Pushy

Fostering Teens Who Are Surrounded By Weeds