Week Six – Foster Care

CAFO Course Forums OVC Essentials – 2018 Winter Week Six – Foster Care

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    • #31628
      Leah St. Pierre
      CAFO Staff

       You are welcome to respond to all or just one of the following prompts:

      If you have experience fostering, share a high and a low and if there are any stand out lessons that God taught or has been teaching you in the process.

      How do you feel that you and/or your church community could begin to more intentionally engage the foster care community in your area? Is there a particular way that God may be calling you to respond from this week’s lesson?

      Share about your reactions to the “Removed Documentary” and Josh Shipp’s “One Caring Adult Away”, and reflect generally on the complex range of emotions and realities present in the stories and experiences of foster care.

    • #31704
      Jessica Rush
      Participant

      Watching the ReMoved documentary was very moving. I thought it was great insight into the child’s perspective and opened my eyes to see things from a different perspective. Josh’s talk about being one caring adult away was also impactful. It forced me to think about how we, as social workers or orphan care workers, have the opportunity and privilege to be that one caring adult for a child. With regards to foster care, we have the unique position to help place children in homes that have caring adults but as we all know, sometimes placements don’t work out and as a child’s worker, I can be the consistent and stable presence for he/she. It is sobering to think about the magnitude of the responsibility foster care workers have and how we need the Lord to help us in all that we do!

      • #31715
        Kaitlyn Stutts
        Participant

        Hey Jessica!

        I definitely agree with you that it is sobering to thing about the responsibilities foster care workers have when caring for and helping vulnerable children. I think the only way to continue through caring for vulnerable children and not be overwhelmed or discouraged is to rely on God. He is the light amongst all the abuse, violence, poverty, and fear that often comes with caring for vulnerable children. God’s calling on all believers to care for vulnerable children is definitely my motivation to enter this field, and is so important to hang on to while in the trenches. I agree that the documentary and Josh Shipp’s speech help us to see things from a different perspective that is very valuable.

      • #31842
        openarms
        Participant

        Hi Jessica,

        I agree, I think the video was so powerful because it was from the child’s perspective. Often they’re the one without a voice in the situation, so it felt sobering to hear the little girl literally narrate her thoughts and emotions. I also agree about the sobering responsibility for everyone involved in foster care. It’s such a humbling reminder of our need for Jesus!

        Blessings,

        Laura

    • #31714
      Kaitlyn Stutts
      Participant

      The Removed Documentary and Josh Shipp’s speech really help you to dive into the complexities and reality of foster care. The Removed Documentary is very real and valuable to see how the child views their out of home care. It is a perspective I am valuing throughout my internship, because children will see things very differently than the workers and those providing foster care. Many children do not want to be separated from their family, they just want the pain and fear to go away. Which can be connected to Josh Shipp’s speech. Children need someone to support and love then unconditionally. Many vulnerable children do not receive that from their caregivers, so as workers or foster parents, we have the power to be that one caring adult. The experiences in the documentary and Josh Shipp’s speech show the highs and lows of foster care. Children in foster care experience something that only other people in the same situation can fully relate to. It is important as we get involved in the care of vulnerable children to be sensitive to their feelings and experiences and express to them they are valued and loved.

      • #31822
        meghan rivard
        Participant

        Yes, that really hit home to me as well that they don’t want to leave but just want the pain to go away. As the documentary stated, they want the sun to come back up the next morning. it is so important that while they are children, we don’t take them for granted, to listen to them show them they are valued.

    • #31821
      meghan rivard
      Participant

      I was deeply moved watching the Removed documentary. it was eye opening and a perspective of foster care that you normally don’t see. My past experience in child protective services included removals and that was THE hardest part of the job. my heart broke for these children. as the documentary said, it is not their fault this happened to them.

      I also loved the message that Josh shared as well. It is so important to share this message that it doesn’t take a perfect person, but all it takes one person to make a difference in the lives of these children. One comment that also stuck out to me was that children see dedication by Time. Spending time with these children show they are valued and that they are seen.

      • #31824
        Lindsey Hughes
        Participant

        I completely agree, Meghan. I loved what Josh said about bring that one caring adult for a child and how the simplest of caring acts can go a long way in influencing a child’s life. Telling a child that you care is great, but SHOWING them that you care through your actions goes even further. I think Josh’s story showed me that even if I don’t have the means to foster or adopt a child, I do have the resources to show a child that there is someone in their life cares deeply about their well-being.

      • #31834
        Jessica Rush
        Participant

        Megan, I totally agree with you! Children definitely see dedication by time. They have already been let down by so many adults and they need us to be dependable with our time and actions. It is a great responsibility!

      • #31966
        Alexis Martens
        Participant

        I love the point that you brought regarding the importance of time as a key factor in a child’s relationship with someone and adding on of a person does not have to be perfect in order to play a significant role in a child’s life. First of all, having my own five-year-old sister, I have seen the importance of spending time with her, especially since I am away at college a lot. Thankfully even children reflect the grace of God in the way of valuing where the heart is. When she was younger I lived at home and had a lot of time to spend with her but now I must be very intentional and loving with the time that I do have with her. I think she understands that and our relationship has not grown apart. I find hope in this for future friendships and mentorships with children in foster care. I think I have been caught up in the idea that we should put our best foot forward and be “perfect.” It’s a lie that has kept me from trying up until now. In everyday life, I don’t worry about always being perfect, I worry about whether I am loving and seeing the individuals in front of me. I forgot this precious truth that God has blessed me with. Their stories may be different than mine, but like me, they were created as relational beings. I loved this point this week.

      • #32078
        Kaari Vasquez
        Participant

        Alexis,

        Thank you for pointing out the importance of time in building a relationship! Our time is the biggest gift we can give our children and others. So often it is easy to get caught up in our ‘to do’ list that our time seems to disappear, but giving of our time to another person is what builds trust. Sticking with them through difficult circumstances and letting them know we aren’t going anywhere is what teaches them that we are worthy of their trust.

    • #31823
      Lindsey Hughes
      Participant

      My supervisor at my internship had actually been telling me that he wanted me to watch the ReMoved Documentary, so it worked out perfectly that this week’s lesson included it. I found it to be deeply moving and to give a great glimpse into the thoughts and emotions of children who come into care. Taking the emotions of children in care into considerations is vital, and to do this, we must understand the full-spectrum of emotions that they feel and what triggers these emotions in them. The children in care don’t ask for it, and they don’t want to leave their family – they simply want the pain to end. I loved Josh Shipp’s story and his premise that it only takes “one caring adult” to change the course of a child’s life. What an incredible perspective. Just taking the time to invest in and show a child that you care for them and their overall well-being truly can make a lasting impact in their life.

    • #31841
      openarms
      Participant

      Every time I watch the Removed documentary, I’m humbled. The first time I saw it, I wondered why I hadn’t considered that angle of foster care before. I feel like sometimes we focus so much on the “after” of foster care – the institution, the harmful affects of moving children around so frequently, the unification and adoption plans – and forget about the “before.” I know in my head that these children were removed for a reason, but I don’t allow my heart to go there, to grieve with them for all they endured and all they lost. Just like adoption, foster care comes with so many complex emotions. There’s love and loss and triumph and tradgedy all wound together. It can seem overwhelming at times – if we don’t keep in mind Josh Shipp’s encouragement of the power one caring adult can have in their lives, and the power of one incredible Savior.

      – Laura

      • #31868
        Ariel Meneese
        Participant

        Yes, Laura! That is so true! Every aspect is important and God is in every piece, even when we forget or ignore some pieces. God is so good!

    • #31866
      Ariel Meneese
      Participant

      Oh wow. The Removed documentary really got me — I was weeping. It was such an incredible depiction of the emotions that come with being in foster care. As someone who has never been in foster care, I can literally only imagine what it is like. Through watching this documentary, I feel like I can imagine the experience a little more accurately. I wish kids never had to go through all that…

       

      Josh’s story is too common. It seems like the majority of children in foster care have some kind of similar response. They have been continually let down. Hurt. Abused. Pushed away. Why would they want to stay in one place and get close to someone when they feel like they will just be hurt again? Then came Rodney. Everything Josh described about Rodney made him more and more my hero. “We don’t see you as a problem, we see you as an opportunity.” I want to remember that quote and use that if the opportunity ever arises. I LOVE how Rodney and his wife didn’t let Josh’s terrible behavior get them down. They chose to love Josh and accept him. They chose to help Josh learn to love and trust others. That is exactly the kind of foster parent every child in foster care needs. If there were more Rodneys in the world, the world would be a much better place!

      Josh also said, “Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” That really resonated with me. I literally put that quote on a picture and made it the wallpaper on my laptop. That is the best way to sum up the call to orphan care. We are all called to help, however we are able. This quote describes how simple it is for anyone to get involved.

      • #32031
        Courtney Schmidt
        Participant

        Yes – that quote really stood out to me too. I will remember it and it will be like a life mission statement for me now. I think the hard part is finding these youth within our own community. Some churches do not have connections to youth in foster care so I’d like to be more proactive in the future with seeking out the opportunities and finding churches that have this mission in mind. I feel that his story really made it so simple – we can be a supporting adult to youth. That doesn’t mean your a foster parent or doing something really complicated – it’s so simple yet profound. We can initiate those relationships and be a support and even welcome youth into our close circles of family and friends. Invite them into our church community and family etc.

    • #31872
      Kaari Vasquez
      Participant

      Two major lessons that God has taught me over the years we were fostering are:

      1) God is purposeful in the children and families he connects through foster care. Our youngest son joined our family through foster care right before he was three years old. About a month later, he was diagnosed with a hearing loss. I happen to be a speech pathologist who specializes in working with children with hearing loss and he was attending the school where I worked – one of the best for children with hearing loss!

      2) God’s definition of healing is much more than just families reunifying. When God called us to do foster care, He called us to be a part of healing families. What I didn’t realize, though, was that my definition of ‘healing’ was limited to children returning to their parents and God’s definition of healing involved true healing – knowing and accepting Him as Savior. This involved a young teenage mom accepting Christ before her 14 month old daughter died of a brain tumor. It looked like our son’s biological mom becoming a Christian. It looked like the Muslim grandmother’s of a former foster daughter asking us about our faith.

       

      We serve a God who creates families on purpose and this extends to foster families as well. We serve a God who is the one true Healer.

      • #31907
        Lis Doane
        Participant

        Oh Kaari, I so agree with this!  I see God’s purpose and plan all over my children’s adoptions.  My youngest also came to us through foster care and I often joke that God chose me to her mother, not because I am such a super mom, but because he knew how stubborn and determined I can be.  He knew I would never give up; no matter how hard it got!  Parenting children from hard places is not for the faint of heart but the growth God brings out of it, not just for your child, but for you and your family, is nothing short of miraculous.

      • #32022
        Brittany Dealy
        Participant

        Kaari,

        I so appreciate what you’ve shared! I have ‘yet’ to experience being a foster mom, and it is so nice to hear the different levels of healing that you get to see. Thank you so much for sharing! God will provide healing one way or another, whether it is exactly how we plan it.

         

    • #31891
      Brittany Dealy
      Participant

      In my church community of about 30 people, we have 2 foster children that come with a foster aunt or parent. We have made an effort to invite them to lunch (on us, personally) and to help out in any way that we can. They often are relieved to be invited to do something, and are happy for the meal, of course!

      Watching the “Removed” doc was so moving. I wish every child could show their story that way so we can help connect all the moving pieces in their hearts and minds. It is so true that any sort of trauma can be triggered instantly in something that can seem so simple and normal and not make sense to anyone else. (The gift of the dress for the girl triggered her trauma).

      I also loved Josh Shipp’s “One Caring Adult Away”. I totally resonated with that as I used to manage teens in often their first job (retail). Even at a part time job, I knew that God had placed me in a position of management with the ‘basic’ training I had, to actually impact these youths lives. I know my context is completely different than having a foster child enter my home, but I felt like mentoring these youths, no matter the background or home situation or friends situation, I made it my goal to be a light in their lives and saw the change and transformation that can come from being the person to who helps them communicate with adults, have self confidence to take care of themselves properly, build a work ethic. Josh’s story was incredible, and motivates me to somehow continue, with a completely different job, to reach out in that way again, in a different capacity. I say this as a piece of encouragement: that even the teens that I would see for only one shift, a total of 4 hours on a busy Saturday, I knew I was making an impact on their lives. That’s not a lot to ask! 🙂

    • #31934
      Emma MacDougall
      Participant

      This week has really encouraged me to want to take steps of actions to help the foster care community around me. The city that I go to college in has a lot of poverty and a lot of foster care. There are many staff members who work for the campus ministry that I serve in who foster children from the community. One way that I can encourage the community, specifically the college ministry, is by volunteering to babysit for the families who are going through foster care. Another way is by educating college on the foster care system and how there is so much foster care in the community. I am leading and starting an orphan care ministry and one thing that we are trying to implement is getting more involved with the community through serving in foster care.

    • #31939
      Lis Doane
      Participant

      My experience with foster care has been working with foster moms.  Our orphan care ministry provides support groups, training, and bible study for foster and adoptive moms. I had always said that I was an adoptive mom because I would never have been able to give a child back.  After spending time with these foster moms, I have been so inspired by their courage, strength, and faith.  They pour themselves into these children and each time they have to return a child, even to happy circumstances, that child takes a little piece of their heart with them.  Then they have to take time and regroup and gather their strength back, before they do it all over again.  How could such a selfless act be possible without our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, living in our hearts?  Foster parenting takes a very special person willing to fully walk in their faith.

    • #31967
      Alexis Martens
      Participant

      The “Removed” documentary was very eye-opening for me. It brought up so many emotions by tapping into my empathetic nature. I was so surprised at how little I have considered the children’s pasts to mean to their present and futures. One of the biggest moments was when the little girl received her dress and was triggered. Without the perspective of the dress being a trigger, I myself may have been overwhelmed and consequently detach from the situation. However, with this knowledge, my reactions will now be adapted. Thank God. There is so much pain and hurt in the past, as a person of God, I want to give the benefit of the doubt to everyone. Let me have eyes to see and ears to listen.

      • #32287
        Emily Evans
        Participant

        I completely agree that the ReMoved Documentary was very eye-opening. I am taking a foster care and adoption class at my college and our professor has 3 adopted kids of his own. He shared with us just how difficult it is for the child to adapt to their new environment, and that they have past triggers that we don’t even know about. Like you said, I think this documentary helps us realize how broken our world is and how important it is for us to show Gods love to everyone. To ask God for strength and boldness and unconditional grace when we need it! We have to remember to be super understanding and open to the children past and what has made them who they are today.

      • #32576
        Emma MacDougall
        Participant

        I completely agree that the Removed Documentary was eye opening. I think that the part where the little girl was given the dress which was a trigger stuck out to me too. I think that its so important to know what could be a trigger and learn about it.

    • #31968
      Alexis Martens
      Participant

      This week has surprisingly moved me in a way that I did not anticipate. It makes me nervous to ask questions to individuals who are in “higher up,” in this case, it just means my elders in the church. I have been worried about asking around and poking for information regarding our involvement in foster care and if we had any members being a part of that. However, this week God has placed his peace in my heart. I feel at peace with the idea of asking, reaching out, and offering services to those who need it. This may be a small note, but it means the world to me. I may not feel prepared, but God prepares those who he calls. I love it 🙂

    • #32030
      Courtney Schmidt
      Participant

      I really liked the material this week and I was especially moved by Josh Shipp’s story about every child being one adult away from being successful. I loved hearing that story and it really hit home for us in our current ministry to youth. My husband is a youth pastor at a small, rural Baptist church and we work with kids from tough backgrounds. We do not have any children that are in foster care, but many of the families are struggling with issues that could lead to the children being placed in foster care (poverty, drugs, family dysfunction, suicide, etc).

      His story really emphasized the importance of being a supportive (not perfect) adult and sticking with them in the long run even when it’s hard. We have struggled to know how to best help our youth kids and have wondered if we’re making a difference. We have often felt that we haven’t had much support ourselves and we are in a role that we aren’t fully equipped to handle the best way possible – we are just doing the best we can! I would personally really like more training on how to best work with kids from tough backgrounds in the youth group/church setting.

      We have one family in particular that is very dysfunctional and the children are really defiant. Our goal is often to keep the program going without a huge blow up from one of those kids and we haven’t been able to really get to a place where the children are thriving. We have been doing ministry there for little over a year now. I want to learn how to better meet their needs, show love, provide support, and also have a structured program with appropriate consequences. I feel that most of the material on Google or Christian book stores are geared towards churched youth. I haven’t found many resources on how to oversee a youth group (Aged KG-12th) with unchurched kids from tough backgrounds. Due to our van ministry, most of the children’s parents do not go to church so we are really in a different situation than many churches.

      Even with these struggles, I appreciated his story about his dad not allowing him to be kicked out no matter how hard he tried. It was an interesting story at a time when my husband and I are considering whether or not we can allow one of the children from that family to return because of the defiance and extreme behavior. Although I know Josh was talking about foster parents and we are working in a larger youth group setting and are not the parents. We still have more to evaluate concerning the whole situation.

      • #32043
        openarms
        Participant

        Hi Courtney,

        I just wanted to pass along a resource I recently discovered. There’s a training called Empowered to Connect that offers tools for working with kids who’ve experienced trauma. It’s supported by an organization called Back2Back Ministries. In my town it was offered primarily for foster parents, but I took it as a part of my job and I thought the insights and practical knowledge were so helpful! I’d recommend it for anyone who interacts with kids from hard places. Not sure if anyone would be facilitating one in your area, but I thought I’d share 🙂

        Blessings,

        Laura

      • #32045
        Jonathon Sampson
        Participant

        I would second the recommendation for Empowered to Connect, as well as the book The Connected Child. My organization uses the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) model in working with our foster families and at-risk families and it is super helpful

    • #32044
      Jonathon Sampson
      Participant

      My wife and I were foster parents in a foster care group home. In the 2.5 years we were in the cottage, 67 children came through our home. We adopted 2 of the boys that we had, and I now work as a foster care recruiter, trying to increase the number of foster homes in our area. Foster care is my jam. I love being able to work directly with children and know that they are safe. Successful reunifications and adoptions are definitely high points, and low points are unsuccessful reunifications. Anytime a child has to reenter foster care after being reunited with family is doubly tragic.

      I am a big fan of the removed video and would recommend the 2nd part to anyone who hasn’t seen it. Seeing things from the child’s perspective is really a game changer when it comes to understanding their behaviors and figuring out how to best help them.

      • #32821
        Natalie Cormier
        Participant

        Wow, I’m not sure the typical statistics for foster families, but I feel like that is a lot of kids in a short amount of time. That’s amazing that you were able to pour into the lives of so many children even if it was only a short amount of time. I wonder how do you feel about limits in terms of what are the limits for families and how much you can actually sacrifice for some of the children.

      • #32897
        Jonathon Sampson
        Participant

        That is an abnormal number. We worked at a residential foster care facility and had 8 kids in our home at any given time. Doing foster care is a residential program is a lot different than foster care in your own home. Limits can be tricky because I know families who struggle with 2 kids and others who thrive with 6 or 7 kids. Kids from hard places definitely have different needs than biological kids, so I do think that limits should be in place. Support is an important factor. Families with stronger support systems and protective factors are able to handle more than families that don’t have as much support.

    • #32286
      Emily Evans
      Participant

      Watching the ReMoved Documentary really moved my heart for children in that little girls exact position. Hearing the “One Caring Adult Away” podcast reiterated how important it is to love foster kids unconditionally. They are surrounded by people in their life that give up on them, and we as Christ followers need to change that and be there for them no matter what. I think we need to look at foster care as a great way to embrace the children and their situations by lavishing Gods unconditional love and grace on them. To show them God and that we love them.

    • #32819
      Natalie Cormier
      Participant

      I definitely cried watching that ReMoved Documentary and proceeded to continue crying during the second video as well. I think that it really displayed the complexity of children acting out because they want attention which is difficult. It reminds me that we are children too and sometimes what we want most is someone to simply reach out to us and seek us out.

      Listening to the One Caring Adult Away, it really makes me think about the power of mentoring and the influence you can have on one person. I love mentoring as I might have mentioned before and it encourages me to think about how I can make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

      I wonder if there is a way that foster parents can be better prepared in these type of situations? I wonder how I can be better as a resource to children and support them.

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