Tuesday, June 12, 2012

5 Competencies


Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Matthew 6:31-32
Facts and Figures
       This month I want to talk about 5 main points that are expected from foster to adopt parents. These points are basic expectations of the agency that I am in. They are called: P.R.I.D.E. 5 Competencies.
    The first is: Protecting and Nurturing Children. We are expected to protect and nurture children which really is what every parent is expected to do.  With that each person has a different idea of how to go about accomplishing this but there are some basics. Obviously feeding, clothing, educating, having a safe home environment, and general care are all considered part of this. There can be issues that arise in each case where it maybe hard to extend the protection that you really long to. For example, if a child lets say 5 years old gets placed in a a foster/adoptive home due to a neglectful or abusive parent there is a relationship that has to be preserved at some level. The court will issue visitation of the birth parents to the child and in those visitation you aren't allowed much leeway. Some adoptive parents choose not to stay during these visits but most stay because they are obviously invested. So the birth parent could speak abusively towards that child or say certain comments that you know is hurting the child's heart. You can say something but obviously the damage is done. It can be hard to even surrender to the fact that your foster/adoptive child has to go to these visits and has to continually be subjected to this kind of verbal abuse and to be fair the mediator will try and squash anything to abusive. You heart sinks at even the thought of exposing them to the unhealthy birth parent but that's something you can't protect them from.
    The second point is: Meeting children's developmental needs and addressing developmental delays. I really count myself fortunate that Bella wasn't exposed to hard core drugs or wasn't delayed for any reason. It's a rare occurrence that a child comes from the foster child with no delays. Many children have severe delays but with the proper care and attention can catch up quickly. I know of one child who is old maybe 10 who didn't know how to read when she came into the system but now is excelling in school. Some of the babies I've seen who have been exposed to drugs prenatal have a hard time with muscle tone, rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking it takes them a bit longer but really they get the hang of it with enough encouragement and therapy. What's great about the foster system is that you have all the therapies that you need completely paid for. You just have to be available. Adoption from the foster system is a time and life investment. Sometimes when a baby comes drug exposed it can take up to 6 months to detox which mean many nights of holding, rocking, and feeding a screaming baby who is in excruciating pain. With children who are exposed to alcohol prenatal there is a permanent genetic mutation that happens and the child is affected for their lifetime. Alcohol is actually worse then hard drugs because it leaves a lasting mark on the child. With all this it takes time, patience, and wisdom to set up your child for success.
    The third one is: Supporting relationships between children and their families. Whether this is birth parents or even your family members it's important that you make an effort to help them stay connected. This one is hard for me because of our situation it may not be the safest for Bella to remain connected so while we visit siblings I'm going to collect all the information for her so when she's older if she wants to find her birth mother it's available. It is important to remain connected to their history because it is how they came to be in your life. They need to know that you don't dislike, disapprove, or have an indifference to their background because it's who they are and where they came from. Disapproval of any kind can lead to broken relationship and an over all feeling of rejection. Each case is different and the connection to the birth family is going to vary depending on the details of the  situation. I remember hearing at an foster/adoption seminar some foster parents who just fostered children telling stories of how they helped the birth parents get their lives on track so they could get their children back. I thought how amazing that these foster parents pursued these birth parents getting them jobs, getting them to meetings, teaching them how to stay connected to their children and in the end saving the family unit which other wise looked hopeless. These foster parents where heroes in my mind and me thinking selfishly of how much I wanted Bella to be mine but all the while knowing that in the end she will re-connect with her family when the time is right and bring redemption. For us I set up an e-mail for Bella's siblings to stay connected even though I'm going for a closed adoption. Again it all depends on what the circumstances are.
    The fourth one is: Connecting children to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a life time. This is talking about family and community. It's important for children to grow up in community and especially when they had such a rough start being in a loving family is vital to re-establishing connection. For me this lead me down the path of considering where I wanted to raise Bella. I'm sure at some point all parents go through this. When you're single or I'm sure the case stand for when you're just a couple there are many things that you don't think about in regards to children. You don't have to live near schools, family, or kid specific centers. When you have a child that all changes. My thought process started something like this. I'm currently living in an apartment where there isn't much nature surrounding us, I grew up in a place where I could get dirty and be in the wood playing fort and exploring. Some of the most profound and moving encounters with God was in nature for me. I believe that being in nature is a vital part of growing up balanced. Then there was the family issue because I'm so far from my family there isn't much connection to who Bella is growing up to be and my mom being gone makes it so there's less contact. All of these and many other little factors started playing into the idea of moving away into a smaller town where I could be connected with family and friends. I love my friends here in LA but it's hard to stay connected when everything is so spread out and all over the place. I also think of the spiritual aspect of having a child grow up in a community of faith. When I was single I was eager to start that community and build it but now I want Bella to be in a more stable community with an inheritance that has been built over decades. I don't believe one or the other is better it's just my preference.
      The fifth is: Working as a member of a professional team. I think this one can sound a little cold like this is a business but it's not. You have to realize that you are a vital part of a team that is trying to determine the best place for this child that you are taking care of. There are social workers, judges, lawyers, birth parents, birth family, sometimes police, and then you the foster/adopt parent. It's important to know that all these people even though they might not seem like it at times are trying to determine the best course of action for this child. Sometimes the birth parents have no idea what's good for the child but some really do try hard. You as an individual have to be secure in something other then yourself to work well with these different entities. I know for me it's my faith. No matter what, I lean on what I believe the Lord is telling me and so far He hasn't let me down not once. Everything that He's told me has come to pass in this case and more than I could have even expected. You have to have patience, peaceful, flexible, generous, understanding, strong, courageous, and willing to do whatever it takes. All these things are subjects that should be established somewhat before taking this leap. I've seen parents who are so uptight with fear that they think they are going to loose their child and they do. People who are really easy going and trusting tend to get cases that close quickly. I'm not saying that that is a hard and fast rule I'm just saying that it can be an easier way to work through the hard moments.
     All of these competencies are what agencies look for in potential foster/adopt parents. To be a foster to adopt parent isn't a right it's a privilege.  I think about that every time I look at Bella, sometimes I think I still can't believe I have such a beautiful baby in my life who just lights up the room everywhere she goes. It's an honor to be called her mother.

Thoughts and Journal Entries
September 2011 

      Well after helping my fellow foster mother for a month she found a more permanent person so off to finding more work. I've literally applied for over 100 jobs and haven't heard. I think though that the fact that I would have my own child with me can throw people off. So, I got a random e-mail from a friend and they have a friend who was looking for someone to help out with their child for part time. It's amazing how God is not about striving but about rest, everything comes when we rest. That is the lesson of this month. Striving is fear and fear is not love and no love = not God. So I'm walking by faith every week just asking the Lord to provide according to His riches in Glory and guess what He does. Sometimes I look at the children that I nanny for and see all the books and toys they have and I think well I'm not able to give her all that I hope that she turns out ok without all that stuff. Then I remember that God is an amazing provider and all we have to do is ask and He gives us bread not stones.
    I know the enemy would just love for me to come into agreement with what I lack as a single parent. Two is better then one but then there's four of us me, Jesus, Holy Spirit and Father God. This month has been a rough one. There was a turn in the case which made it slightly possible that I would loose Bella but I continually stood on the promise God gave me. I don't know how people do it with out God I would be an emotional wreck thinking that I could loose this baby that for me is and will forever be my daughter. Bella brings me so much joy and love that I didn't know possible. It's different to any other relationship that you will ever have in your life. No wonder Father God is in a good mood and loves His children      

    I never thought about being a single parent before I took this journey. I grew up in a home where both my parents where with me all the time. I never lived in a single parent home before. However my best friend was a single mother for a while. I actually realized that there were a string of friendships in my lifetime that were single mothers that I was able to help and be apart of their lives in past season. As I'm walking this time out I've pulled on the wisdom and experience that I've witnessed in my single mother friends. The things that aren't really known are the moments of loneliness and the times where memories are taking place. Not having someone to share them with can be hard but I know that God is still good in those moments and I feel His tenderness towards us. Being a single mother is like being on a treadmill all day. After all the naps, feedings, errands, and play times and finally you think you get a break when the baby is asleep then you look around and realize, there's still dishes to do, bills to be paid, trash to be taken out, floors to wash, not to mention personal times where you just need to take time to think and pray. My spiritual mother told me, don't worry about the dishes or having a dirty house just love the moments. I agree with her but then I remember that I have social workers stopping in randomly and they judge you on everything.  Fun times to be had by all!
    The Lord has really started telling me to make my needs known and allow people to help me also to go out once in a while treat myself to something. So I took Bella and I one Sunday out to breakfast. We skipped church and I went to a cute cafe for some awesome eggs Benedict. We were sat in the middle of the room with many families surrounding Bella and I. Babies aren't much for conversation but it was great having her in the high chair throwing toys and making gurgling sounds. I guess we were a sight because everyone kept looking at us. I do have to say she's the cutest baby ever so I don't blame them but something in me missed having a family around. Going out to breakfast in my family is a special thing, that is our connection time. We get to talk about our lives and catch up with each other but being the only adult in the conversation was hard. It surprised me how quickly I was finished and was out of the cafe. These moments I want family around to see her growing up and share the memories.

Mommy and baby breakfast outing

Next concert pianist

Bath time!

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