It Just Makes Sense

Guest post from our National Adoption Month Series: Post by Stephanie Erwin

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In just a moment, it happened.  I fell in love with a sweet little boy, and two weeks later, he was in our home,  under our care.  Sure, we had talked about fostering – in abstract, “someday” terms, but this….this was REAL, and this boy NEEDED us.  Right then. Us, not anyone else.

Little Man had multiple medical needs, and his mother had a bad situation “blow up” on her, as I came to understand much, much later.  This little guy didn’t have a place to go, didn’t have anyone that could handle his needs….  I happen to be a nurse, and happen to have my own daughter with severe special/medical needs.  Little Man had been brought to my hospital as DSS didn’t know what else to do…he wound up in my friend’s assignment.  She was having problems dealing with the feeding pump that provided Little Man’s feeds and called me, knowing I had extensive experience with the pumps.

I walked in, and this beautiful, sweet little face looked up at me – smiled…..and my heart was his.  My brain started spinning, and I spoke with the Social Worker in our department – I was like – “I can take care of him – I have everything he needs and can take him home right now” – thinking it was just going to be a few weeks or maybe a couple of months at the most….The Social Worker made a couple of phone calls, and I proceeded home after work and sat down my ever-patient, kind and loving husband.

“What are we going to DO with him?” That was his only question after I laid out the situation.  “We’re going to love him and make sure he’s safe” was my answer.  A few more phone calls, a couple of home visits, a bunch of questions, and two weeks later he was temporarily ours.

It just made sense.

We were blessed to have nurses care for Little Man while I was at work, and he folded into our lives pretty seamlessly.  Not that things weren’t challenging, and don’t for a second think we did this all on our own…  Weeks turned into months turned into a year… We got the rest of the story.  We got to know Little Man’s mother. We discussed what would happen if we needed to step in and adopt him, and we prepared as best as we could for whatever the County decided.  We prayed for the best outcome, and watched as the wheels of foster care turned ever-so-slowly towards returning him to his Mom.

Thirteen months later, we tearfully said goodbye to our Little Man as he went back to his mother. A joyful thing as it was the right thing to have happen.  A relief in some ways, admittedly – had he come to stay with us permanently, I would have had to stop working to make all his appointments and meetings and such.  A heart-breaker as we had come to adore him.

A few months later, a phone call here, a text message there, and not only Little Man, but also his mother, returned to our lives.  This time, as a kind of second daughter and first grandson – since we would never have our own grandchildren.  Since their return to our lives, we have gained another grandson, and get to see both our boys, and their mother and her boyfriend, on a very regular basis. We’ve become “Mamabear and Papabear” to all of them.  And it all makes perfect sense….

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Stephanie Erwin is a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department. She is the mother of a 23 year old daughter with Cerebral Palsy and myriad other medical issues, an avid camper, quilter, and lover of all things essential oil/aromatherapy.  She lives with her precious daughter, beloved husband, dog, cats, horses, chickens and goat in a small slice of heaven in North Carolina, where her former foster son, his baby brother, and his mother and her boyfriend are around nearly every week.

 

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Resting Season

I wrote this blog post months ago. I never edited or read over it after typing it out, didn’t really know if Dropping Anchors was the place for it even, so it sat unpublished for about six months. I pulled it open today and felt like I had just written it, mimicking exactly what I’ve been feeling in the past few weeks again. Isn’t it just like the Lord to bring us back, to show us to our own words as a reminder of his steadfast faithfulness? So because it’s still on my heart, and very much still true, I’m posting now. If you’re in a place that feels repetitive, like things aren’t moving, I hope this encourages your heart like it did mine today.

After a whirlwind season of 6 placements over the span of 6 months, during an especially hard evening of wrestling with myself through stress and seeking the Lord through prayer, I felt Him say, “it’s okay to rest.” I immediately felt the stress leave my shoulders and soft, releasing tears came quickly down my cheeks. Rest was so needed for all of us, so needed for me. The permission I felt in that moment to put our home on hold and hunker down as a family was a surrender of a heavier load than I had realized I was carrying.

We told our caseworker we’d be closed for a while, that we’d need to have our current placement moved, and shortly after, we were back to a family of 4. I was confident that a season of rest would be easy for me. I am not a doer by nature, but a ponderer. Rest. Yes. I can do that. But as my days ticked by in our new normal, I found myself filling up my “rest season” with more and more. Artwork, new clients, projects around the house, new ideas and plans. Running errands I didn’t need to run. My time of reflection and quiet suddenly felt very distracting and loud. I had pushed away the thing I was so excited to welcome in.

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Like I should have expected He would, the Lord met me there in my clear choice to NOT rest, showed me grace, and gave me peace again. But this new peace was different. It was rest, yes, but also felt like revival. Like a new thing was stirring up. Rest and revival seem like opposites to me. If rest is making room, finding quiet space, allowance… revival feels more like filling up, an uproar and upheaval of the way things have been. But that’s where I was. There in my in-between of “foster mom” and “just a mom,” between the pull of rest and revival, I found peace. Both extremes in my heart simultaneously, both from the Lord.

So for now, I rest and while I rest, I prepare my heart for revival.

steph

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Foster Sibling Interview

img_0209There’s a lot of talk about what its like being a foster parent out there, but one of the things that’s often overlooked is the role the siblings play and what they experience being part of a foster family. Here at Dropping Anchors we have a great group of foster dads and moms but we also have a great crew of children that walk this road with us on the daily and bring unique personalities and gifts to their foster blended families. And they also have unique experiences that deserve to be heard. So starting today we want to share a little bit of their stories with you by introducing you to Lotus (my sweet girl and middle child) who will be the first to share in what we hope will be a series of interviews with our kiddos.

So take a seat and come join us……

Hi Lotus, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long your family has been fostering & how many placements your family has had?  I’m 16 yrs old, home schooled and in the 11th grade. I love the outdoors, photography and am slightly obsessed with tiny homes. After I graduate I would like to spend some time in Haiti doing missionary work, but would be open to going other places also. Our family has been fostering for 4 yrs now and we’ve had 5 placements and done emergency placement & respite for 6 other kids/teens.

Whats your favorite part about being a foster sister? Just being a sister to them… playing with them, holding them, and doing everyday life with them.


Whats the hardest part about being a foster sister? Saying good bye and knowing most of the time I will never get to see them again.

What is something you’ve learned about yourself since your family started fostering? Strength & weakness? I guess I found out that I’m stronger than I thought; even though it was hard to say good bye it didn’t stop me from wanting to say yes to the next kid. And I guess my weakness is that I don’t always understand others problems and how they affect their lives. 

What’s something you’ve learned about your parents you didn’t know before? Honestly the things I’ve seen in you guys while fostering I already knew about you. I knew you guys were loving and that you were strong so nothing really surprised me. (She gets total brownie points for this answer by the way 😉

 If you could change one thing about the system what would it be? There’s so many things, but I think parents get too many second chances. Like if a child has come into care before, then is returned home and comes in care again I don’t think they should get as long to work another plan, but then its hard for me to say that because I know Jesus gives second chances. It’s just sad to see them be hurt over and over again. 

What’s been your sweetest moment as a foster sister? There’s been a lot but my favorite moment was when we adopted E and I knew I got to be his sister forever. 


Has any moment ever made you wish your family would have not fostered? Nope, because I always think had we not done this then we wouldn’t have E and I wouldn’t have got to meet all the other kids. 

What’s something you wish people understood about being a foster family? I’m always getting asked when a new kid comes into our home if were going to adopt them, but we don’t get to decide if they stay or go. I just wish people understood the point of foster care is to reunite them with their families and adoption is the last option. And even then its not up to us because family is always the next option after the parents.

What advice would you give to a teen whose family is about to start fostering? I would tell them that they need to remember that these kids have had it harder than them and they will need a lot of attention and help so be prepared to give as much as your parents will. And you won’t just be sharing a room, your sharing everything and you will need to be patient with them and your parents.  

Will you possibly foster in the future? Why or why not? I’m really not sure; I do know I want to adopt someday but fostering is hard and it’s a big decision to make.

So that’s our first……As her mom I can say through fostering I have seen this girl bloom. I’ve watched her willingly open her heart and room. I’ve seen her treat temporary teens as friends and not once flinch at giving up her bed for the night. I’ve also seen her lose her patience but say sorry later with the biggest hug. And I’ve been held by her when I cried the pain was too much; while being encouraged to keep on. And had her talk some sense into me when she knew we were about to get in over our heads. But I’m a little partial to this girl and think she’s pretty awesome. ❤

Feel free to ask your own questions in the comments or over on IG and join in the conversation. Or check out this interview Chrystal wrote in 2014 with some other foster siblings.

nicole

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Glory stories…. anointed 


Sitting on our refrigerator are pics of all the kiddos that have come through our home; the one in particular that has held the most heartache for us is a sweet girl that stayed with us for 18 months & who ,other than one very painful time, we have yet to see again. But that’s foster care isn’t it; the story doesn’t always turn out how you’d like it too?
However in our home now is a equally as sweet (though highly energetic & sometimes sassy ) girl that shares the same birthday & name with the girl we lost.

To be very honest she can be hard at times because trauma is a beast. The thing about that though that’s beautiful is she understands loss & the one thing foster kids & foster parents share is definently loss. We know what it’s like to be separated from someone you love. We know what it’s like to have your heart broke & no answers to the why’s that go through your head.
But to combat that pain in her I take my finger  to her forehead  almost every night & gently rub between her eyes, praying that Jesus would take the bad thoughts & pain away & whispering as much truth as I can into that girl.

Well after an especially hard day last week she goes to lil misses picture, closes her eyes and starts to make the sign of the cross on her forward and says these words over her…”God protect her and may she always remember how very loved she was in this house”.
What she & I didn’t know was that a couple of days later I’d get some news that would kinda knock me right back into that pain of lil miss leaving and all the confusion of why we don’t see her now, but when the tears started to subside I remembered this….. a girl, broken herself,  anointing our other girl with her words & the only thing that both breaks & heals… the cross. And a moment of grace poured out before I even knew I needed it.

Truth is I may never see little miss again & I may never know why, but in losing her I’ve gained insight into the heart of every little one that comes into our home. Into the heart of our girl now whose faced far more loss than us.

And inevitably it’s these things, her story and ours,  that become our own cross…. these things that both break and heal us but that are ripe to become a glory story.

And it’s these small moments when darkness retreats and He shines brightest that we’re all really fighting for. Because it might not turn out how you’d like it too but we can piece together something beautiful out of these stories.

So how about you? What’s your glory story? If you’ve got one share it!!

nicole

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Meet The Mama: Kelli

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hey y’all!! I’m Kelli and I was born and raised in FL. I married my high school hunny, and my best friend. I love all things creative, but rarely get anything done, and photography has a special place in my heart. My hubby and I are the proud owners of a pop up camper and hope to spend our weekends going to new places and unplugging. We have three children, one cat and two totally different personalities. I’m outgoing, a little bossy, always late and love to be the center of attention. My better half is calm cool and collected, early and rarely shows off. I think we make a pretty good team and I’m pretty lucky I found such a great husband and daddy.

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How long have you been a foster parent and how many kiddos have you fostered?

We were licensed in February of 2013. Our first placement came in March 2013. A beautiful 10.5 week old baby boy who never left. His adoption was finalized October 2013. We had 5 other short term placements then our baby girl arrived in April 2014. She was all of 4 pounds 6 ounces of sweet sugar. After 363 days in foster care she is now our forever girl! A big move and a few more short term placements later we got an email about another two year old girl who needed a home short term while she waited for ICPC paperwork to be processed for a move out of state to a relative. Fast forward just five short months later, a change of plans and a whole lot of love… she is now our daughter. We adopted her in October 2016, exactly 3 years to the day of our first adoption. So three adoptions in three years AND three littles four and under. In 2017 we added to our family again when we opened our home to a young adult through extended foster care.

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What made you want to become a foster mom?

I don’t really remember a time where foster care wasn’t a part of the plan. I vividly remember sitting in my first apartment researching foster parenting at barely 18. Thankfully my husband was on board and though we didn’t know when, we both agreed it was something we would do. 12 years later we were knee deep in wanting to start a family when foster care came back up. Within days, we were signed up for classes and filling out mountains of paperwork. I look back and I am amazed how perfectly that dream played out. I know those desires were put on my heart so long ago to bring me right to this moment.

View More: http://caseyhollyphotography.pass.us/carpenter-family

What’s the biggest challenge you face as a mama of fosters?

Foster Care has taught me so much. I have been challenged in ways I never imagined. I have seen and heard things I don’t wish on anyone and witnessed real life miracles that have been life changing. But the one thing I still really struggle with is the lack of control I actually have. It’s a scary thing to hand over your heart and home to a system that needs a lot of work. Sometimes everything seems very out of control and when I want and need answers they are not always right there. I feel like I have come a long way in my need to control everything, but it’s something I’m working on daily. I’m grateful that this daily lessons come with an amazing gift of these kids to share it with.

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What’s the most rewarding part of being a foster mama?

Foster care has changed my life. It’s brought me closer to my family, I have made incredible new friends, it made me a Mommy. I think what’s been most rewarding for me is being a witness to the beautiful things that do come from so much that is broken.

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What’s your best piece of advice for new foster parents?

Connect! Connect! Connect! Foster Care in general is hard enough… Don’t do it alone. Find others who are walking the same path as you and reach out, grab their hands, and ride together. It’s very easy to feel very alone in this journey. You will find yourself in situations and facing things that a lot of people in your life just won’t understand. Don’t get me wrong, those relationships are important too, but someone who gets it without explanation at 3 am when a child arrives whose world just fell apart… Trust me… You don’t want to have to explain. You just need someone who says I get it, I’m sorry, how can I help?

On the rough days when you don’t feel like you have anything left… Remember that He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

kelli

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Post Placement Depression 

Sharing a small part of my foster story with a friend recently, I was reminded of my bout with post-placement depression. Several conversations with foster and adoptive mamas and a quick google search showed me I wasn’t alone in the struggle. Like postpartum, depression after the arrival of a new little one can happen to anyone, come out of nowhere, and feel utterly alienating.

When one of my boys came to us, my depression was a fog that I couldn’t wade through to figure out my thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t understand what was truth, what was the pure exhaustion that comes from the whirlwind of a new child in the home, and what was, well, anything else. I was scared and overwhelmed and I felt so incredibly alone.


Asking for help was a huge step toward healing for me. I began counseling, talked vulnerably with several friends, and prayed and read my Bible like my life depended on it. My life DID depend on it. In our Dropping Anchors crew alone, about half of us discussed that we have felt the weight of depression following a new placement.

I asked some friends to share their experience with post-placement depression because I think the solidarity is important, and knowing you’re not alone to carry the burden is huge. One friend said of her experience with post-placement depression:

“Our first placement was my first encounter with ‘post placement depression’. A big part of this was a very bad experience with a difficult case and our own naive thinking.”

“I had never heard of it before, and a few weeks in to this new experience I was scouring the internet for any sign of familiarity with other fostering families. I found out that it might not just be the stress, or the turmoil, or newness, or sense of isolation that I was feeling- but perhaps a culmination of those things that added up to PPD.”

“For me, knowing that I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t imagining this fog that surrounded me was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. Yes, there were dark days- I still get a bit panicky thinking about that time. But for us, it was a season that we were able to get past.”

“I didn’t handle it with grace, but we persevered and we learned to do better. We know how to connect with others who are experiencing or have experienced. We know how others are supposed to treat us, and how we should treat others in this life of foster care.”

So if you’re reading this today and thinking that any of this hits home, suspect that you may be struggling with post placement depression, or realize that you have experienced this in the past, please know you are not alone! Feel free to comment below if you’d like prayer or solidarity-support. This foster road we walk can be really difficult, friend, and sometimes reaching out for help is the best thing we can do.

steph

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How to tick off a Mama Bear with 5 little words

“Did you have them tested?” she asked.

“Tested for WHAT?!” I replied while secretly hoping she wouldn’t say what I thought she would say. But alas, she did.

“You know… to make sure they aren’t… (whispers) ‘crazy‘ before you decided to keep them.”

SCREEEECH!!! HOLD UP! *Cue Mama Bear*

“What did you just ask me about my children??? Did I test them before deciding to keep them?? Did you test your bio kids before you decided to keep them? No? Why not?? What if they try to kill you in your sleep one night?!”

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the most grace filled response, but seriously this random lady person I just met decided that should be one of her first questions to me? At least she stopped talking at that point and backed away slowly. *Mama Bear:1, Random Person:0*

Let me tell you a few things about children in foster care and children that are adopted:

  1. They are children. That’s right. Children. Wild to think about, eh?
  2. They need love and they give love. Just the same as all other children.
  3. They have experienced things that most children have not. This can lead to different behaviors and thought processes. But, still… they are children.
  4. Their background is none of your business. They are children and still deserve privacy.
  5. If no one would ever ask you the question you are about to ask me about your bio children, then don’t ask it about my foster or adoptive children. Once again, they are all children.
  6. Do not make assumptions about children in foster care or children that are adopted being “bad”, “evil”, “crazy”, or any other super inappropriate and derogatory term you might muster up. They are children. Assume about them the same as you assume about any other child.
  7. Don’t ask ridiculously ignorant and judgemental questions- it’s rude, it makes you look rude, and makes Mama Bear angry. You don’t want an angry Mama Bear on your tail.

Listen, I know there are a LOT of misconceptions regarding foster children and much of that comes from the media where movies show crazed foster children that kill their parents, torment siblings, and more, but seriously, it’s 2017… can we please get over this dramatic show of evil foster children and start casting them as they are: children. Can you maybe access the internet and research on how to help these children, or ask a meaningful and helpful question to the foster parent, adoptive parent, or… wait for it… the actual CHILD??

Mama Bear

Here are a few step by step ways to not sound ignorant and rude about foster care and adoption and not tick off a Mama Bear:

Step 1) Stop with the misconceptions and prejudgements on foster and adoptive children based on things they have no control over

Step 2) Remember they are children

Step 3) Treat them with the respect that all children deserve

 

Alisha Signature

 

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