Archive for January, 2012

Facing Famine -week 4

I confess we are slowing down in our general impact of our famine awareness exercise.  The kids have just decided to skip dinner all together because they are sick of rice and beans with nothing else in it.  This serves us in saving money and all, but not as much in reminding the kids to be grateful for food.  I think it’s maximum impact was the first 2 weeks.

Lukas chose to give saved money to fishing supplies to World Vision and Adelaine chose to give fruit trees:

http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?section=10366

We’ve read some more good books, which I added to the book sections and I’ve gathered some amazing resources specific to hunger from World Vision resources, including games, real stories that I am using with my kids and plan to use with other older youth soon that I am teaching and perhaps doing the real 40-hr Famine with.

http://www.u2.com/news/title/time-for-the-f-word/   My friend Christine sent this link to me and I love it.  Many get annoyed at celebrities on this campaign, but I am grateful for them…and humbled that they church has often been over shadowed by Hollywood getting more involved then we often are in these issues.  This isn’t a video for kids perhaps, but I appreciate its desire to state what is truly shocking in this world right now.  One.org campaign has achieved some remarkable things.

Lastly, at the end of the month we plan to go to an Ethiopian restaurant, in honor of our little boy we will be adopting (and thanks to a half  off Group-On that I just got that can also double as Adelaine’s birthday dinner – woo hoo).  We also plan to watch  http://jamaa.worldvision.org/ to end the month off, reminding us that child sponsorship is one of the best fights against famine because it is long-term community development.

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Facing Famine – Week 3

Gas is tempering down

No inappropriate hugging from Lukas to small children in class due to over-excitement to hug a little adopted brother

Saving some good money on dinners and serious time too since the kids want to pass on dinner most night so I just put it back in the tupperware.  Why haven’t I tried this method before?  What a time/money saver!  Though…true – not  the point of teaching about famine, poverty, hunger.

We read some amazing books today.  I added some to the Children’s Book post under the Books Category.  The refugee books really impacted my kids, particularly because we have known several refugee families through ESL (English as a Second Language) situations in Oregon and now in Connecticut.  Real stories are intense and so personal.

We’ve also, through a lot of this focus, sensed a different sort of famine in our son.  Though this is somewhat unrelated, we sense in him (have on and off since he was little, but now that he is away from  us all day at school ) that there is a bit of a famine in his heart.  A famine of his identity, of his purpose..not just of who he is, but ultimately WHOSE he is.  It feels tragic that I can love someone so much and they can still be so insecure, unmoved by how much  love is just aching for his sweet life.  It has reminded me though, in the midst of caring so much about these global issues, that I care more about my child knowing who he is, and how he treats others, and  what he knows about God’s heart for this world…then if he is cool.  I can’t give a crap if he is a little socially awkward (though it can hurt to watch sometimes in big crowds) or if he is “well rounded”.  It’s a load of bull really anyways.  Who wants to be well rounded.  I am well-rounded (currently in more ways that one even in spite of this dang rice/beans situation).  I am really good and knowledgable at a lot of things, but never really quite settling into anything or into myself.  I am still feeling so much on the inside like what my little boy looks like on the outside when he walks in a crowd.  I hide it more, but sometimes, I feel just as awkward and unsure as to how to start a conversation and just as weird when I am left standing alone.  If only I knew not just who I was, but WHOSE I was to the core and didn’t have to remind myself or fight lies all day long.   I long to give that to my children…to give them identity and purpose.   I’m so grateful God gives me eyes to see the lack of nutrition in my son, though it hurts to see.  I do pray we figure out how to feed him.

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Compassionate Spending and Gift Giving

I hope to add SO SO SO much more to this list, but I needed to start it (and I welcome input):

First of all, we can all do a lot to buy used, thus not spending as much so that we might give more in other ways AND not create more waste.  However, if you love giving gifts like me, gift giving is inevitable.

Gift Catalogs from non-profits are awesome – at Christmas time, at birthdays, and at the end of the school year.  Does a teacher need another mug….or would a gift to education in a third world country in their name be more meaningful?  Giving our children the opportunity to pick out a gift from a gift catalog is a gift to the recipient and them.

My favs so far:

http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?lpos=top_drp_WaysToGive_Gift+Catalog&go=gift&&section=10389  GIFT catalog at World Vision – you can order personalized cards that are beautiful and meaningful

https://secure3.convio.net/ijm/site/SPageNavigator/HGC_Home.html International Justice Mission – You can give toward a rescue mission or an aftercare pack for girls just rescued or so so much more

Other cool sites:

http://nightlightinternational.com/store/  Jewelry made by girls as an alternative to the sex trade

http://www.amazimastore.org/  Buy jewelry made in Uganda to support Amazima ministry (Kisses from Katie)

http://www.krochetkids.org/ Buy krochet items as a sustainable income for families in developing countries

http://one.shop.musictoday.com/ ONE store – not just t-shirt – an amazing feed bag that purchases food for others and is a cool tote bag

http://www.joinred.com/red/#shopred Products raising awareness of AIDS

http://edun.com/ Fashion clothing that is fair trade with Africa

http://store.showhope.org/ Clothing spreading awareness for orphans

http://worldvisionshop.org/given World Vision Apparel and Accessories

http://www.africahopeapparel.org/ Awesome shirts

http://www.147millionorphans.com/  Necklaces and clothing that supports and adovcates for the 147 Million orphans

http://www.agreatergift.org/ and http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/  and   www.worldcraftsvillage.com

Fair trade retailers of amazing projects around the world – Asian and African jewelry, ornaments from Bethlehem, & instruments!

www.hungersite.org Some fair trade, some global girlfriend – each purchase gifts food to the hungry

http://dotheextraordinary.com/SHOP/Products/Were-Seeing-Red-TShirt__sctnowredGirls.aspx Advocating for Sex Trafficking

I know there is more, but that’s it for now.

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Foster Parenting – What’s Stopping You?

(Again…This is an adapted version from my agency that I wrote:  www.ctfostercareadoption.com )

  What’s Stopping You?

Addressing the Common Fears of Becoming a Foster Parent

By Anna Goodworth, CRI Recruitment Specialist

 

            We know that becoming a foster parent is a huge decision and not one to be taken lightly.  However, we also know that while there are many important factors to consider in making this decision, some of these factors are easily surmountable with mere information.  Many, if not most, fears can be subdued by understanding the situation that you are walking into and the support that is offered to you in foster care.  Let us walk into this topic and address some of these fears together:

Fear #1 – “It seems like such a long process and a lot of paperwork”

It is true that you can’t become a foster parent overnight, but the process can be viewed as a preparation process.  Not only do we need to verify that our foster parents will be safe parents, but we need to provide training for parents.  This is to provide parents with a base of information about foster care itself, the services that we provide, and effective behavior strategies targeted for children with very difficult pasts.  The paperwork and process can seem overwhelming if you look at it all in one chunk, but if you just take one thing at a time, then it flows quite easily.  Do the first thing first.  Gather your questions.  Consider the wait as part of the preparation of your home, your life, and your family.  It is a time to educate yourself.  The next step will present itself.  If you have questions about anything, including the process, just ask us.

Fear #2 – “I don’t have the money to support another child.”

            Money should never be a deterrent from taking in a foster child, as you will receive a monthly stipend for room/board and normal life expenses.  However, just to address the topic, it should not be used as an income to meet unmet budget needs in your life.  Though it certainly isn’t wrong verify this stipend will be more than sufficient for the child being in your home, foster care is a 24 hour job and requires so much more heart, energy, and mind than a normal “job”.  Foster parenting is a gift you are offering to a child, to give them a chance at healing, the possibility of success and a glimpse of life beyond some of the abuse and struggles they have experienced.   You will never be able to put a price on what you are doing…never.   We can’t pretend to do so.

Fear #3 – “I don’t want outside people in my home, judging my parenting, telling me what to do.”

            Your social worker is there to support you, not to tell you what to do.  It is true that social workers must ensure that any court-mandated instructions are carried out,  but they are designed for the best interests of you and the child.  However, overall, he/she is there to offer you extra services, a voice of encouragement, a word of praise, an ear for listening and to offer you extra services.  You will be given support from therapists and social workers who have had extensive experience with foster children.  They WANT you to succeed.  No one is in your home to pick apart the way you are doing anything.  They want everyone to feel empowered and encouraged and successful.  Soon, you will become an advocate for the child, as part of the team to help the child heal and grow.

Fear #4 – “I don’t know if I have the time or energy for a foster child.”

This is definitely a good thing to consider.  Depending on the needs of the child, there are varying degrees of how much time and energy will be required of you.   However, you can always step into this process WHILE you are still figuring out how it will all work out.  Should you find that respite care (short term/emergency foster care) is a better option for you, then that too is an amazing gift to foster children and other foster parents.  Should you find that this isn’t the right time for you, then that is totally okay.

 

Fear #5 – “I don’t feel qualified to take on someone else’s child, especially any child with any extra needs.”

While it is essential to be always gaining skills in parenting, there is no perfect parent.  The fact that you are considering this as a possibility for your life is a sign that you are on the right path of a generous, caring parent.  All parents are in a learning process and all parents have something different to offer.  We work very hard to match children with parents to secure a good fit, as well as give you initial training about that specific child.  Continual training is also at your disposal through your agency and cooperative agencies.  Your social worker visits you and your foster child once a month for DCF cases or once a week for therapeutic cases.   He/she is always available to you by phone.  The social workers help you with any issues that come up, help answer questions, and work to make your placement a success.

As far as being eligible to be a foster parent, you need only be at least 21 years old, have an available bedroom in your home, and have a criminal background check free of abuse.

Fear #6 – “What if it gets too hard and there are situations that I can’t deal with on my own?”

Should you choose to foster/adopt a child through DCF, your child will be assessed according to her needs and given the extra care he/she needs through extra behavioral support services that DCF has contracted with.  You can call your social worker with any questions and you can always call emergency numbers you are given.

Should you choose to foster/adopt a therapeutic child through a contracted agency outside of DCF, you will have access to all the behaviorists, nurses, and on-call systems within that agency.  This more intensive support is due to the fact that child has already been identified as having extra behavioral or medical needs and is therefore, put under the care of the therapeutic agency able to offer that support.     

Fear #7 – “I’m nervous I won’t make a difference or be able to help that child.”

That is pretty much impossible.  By merely offering your home, you are making a difference.  By offering support, compassion, and structure to get that child to their services you are doing even more.  By opening your heart to love and guide that child, you are forever impacting and redeeming part of that child’s life.  You WILL make a difference.             

Fear #8 – “If I do foster care, I’m scared I’ll get too attached and not be able to give the child back.”

Foster care is parenting with the intended goal to return to their biological family in a healthy, functioning manner.  This is definitely difficult for any foster parent and will be painful and confusing.  However, the care you offer that child is invaluable and though it is a painful gift to give, it is a beautiful gift to give.  You can get on the path of foster/adopt if you know that you might like to adopt a child.  In this case you will be placed with a child with the greatest likelihood of being legally free for adoption.

Fear #9 – “I still have too many questions about the process and how it would fit in my life.”

That is what this process is all about – getting questions answered and stepping more and more into it as you feel comfortable.  Ask away!

Fear #10  – “What if I start this process and change my mind.”

You can always change your mind and starting the process is the only way you will know if you want to commit to it.  It is expected that most people starting this process are still getting their questions answered and have many things they are working through to see how foster parenting fits into their life.  You are free to change your mind at any point in the process about if you want to do foster care, foster/adopt, respite care, wait for another time, or just find other ways to help foster children.

 

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Foster Children – ANYONE CAN HELP THEM

I am blessed by a per diem job as a foster care recruiter under a great boss from CRI in Connecticut who gives me the freedom to make some extra handouts that could be helpful for anyone who may be interested in helping foster children in many ways.  I have made handouts specifically for my agency – for therapeutic kids – who have been through more abuse and neglect and therefore have more behavioral or medical needs that need support and help.  I have also made handouts for more general foster care.   I will attach a handout for general foster care since this blog crosses many state lines as well as my organizations’ blog which has additional resources..  www.ctfostercareadoption.com :

 

We can ALL help FOSTER CHILDREN in big and small ways:

  • Collect and donate needed items:  filled diaper bags, small toys, diapers, wipes, school supplies, backpacks, formula, baby food, birthday presents (toys for kids, gift cards for teens), crafts, shoes, clothing..  This can be done individually by families, by big “back to school drives”, by “adopt a child” at Christmas, etc.  You can also “Adopt a Social Worker” who will notify you of the unmet needs of abused and impoverished children. 
  • Organize an event:  A Garden Tea, A Spa Day, A Mini-Sports Camp, Birthday Parties for kids in shelters, Holiday Parties, etc.    The possibilities are endless!  What is your niche? 
  • Do a “Foster-Parents’ Night Out”:  The more foster parents feel supported and taken care of, the longer they will continue to do foster care and the better care they can provide.  Churches and other community centers sometimes have the easiest resources to rally this!
  • Volunteer!  Foster kids need mentors to teach social skills and have a role model.  They need tutors to help them with learning difficulties and make them feel successful in school.  You can become a Guardian At Litem (a volunteer advocate for children in court).  You can volunteer at a children’s home with countless needs.  Just contact us and we’ll give you ideas!
  • Provide a Job!  Teenage foster children need skill sets and job opportunities.  The economy may not lend itself toward offering jobs easily, but the rewards of knowing you advanced a child’s skills, opportunity, and confidence will. 
  • Become a respite foster parent:  This is getting a foster care license and providing respite care for other foster parents while they go on vacation, need a break or for emergency care.  Though children would only  be in your home for a short period of time, but it is a greatly needed help.  Respite workers are given a financial subsidy, but the work is definitely more about the mission of helping both child and foster family. 
  • Donate your resources:  This can be from donating your services (hair stylists, lawyers, teachers, mechanics, home repair) to foster agencies for their own use.  You can donate services or items for fund raising auctions that support foster children.  Of course, donating your money and raising funds in your community is also greatly needed as well.   Even donating sporting event tickets and other special items can be an amazing gift. 
  • Spread the word!  You are the greatest advocate for the stories you hear about these children.  If you work for a business, there are many ways to include you in spreading the word about the need for foster parents as well as how anyone can help foster children.   Simply spreading the word to friends, families and communities about the options out there to become involved is important.  It both keeps everyone aware and compassionate to the plight of these children, but also serves to generate more great ideas to help them. 
  • BECOME A FOSTER PARENT!  This is definitely the most sacrificial, but rewarding option on the list.  Many have gone before you to be a part of restoring the lives and hearts of thousands of children.  We will be with you every step of the way…every frustration, every fear, every joy, and every triumph.  Please consider it…now…or just tuck it away in your heart and see what happens.  Ask questions.  Get on a mailing list.  Ponder what you could do. 
  • Break and mold!  Come up with something totally new. Just contact us and we will brainstorm with you!

 

 

 

 

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Facing Famine – Week 2

So, basically – we are going strong, as is the gas-x consumption in our home on our rice/beans diet.  Our poor children have been running in and out of the room so much they could pose for a great ritalin commercial for how little they can sit still.

We haven’t been as good this week about talking each night about famine issues before dinner…though just the mere complaining before the rice/beans creates the reminder that children around the world are grateful for the common meal of rice and beans and are literally dying without it.

I’m not sure why there has been a change in my daughter recently.  Granted she is just 4 and empathy is usually more verbally expressed at 5 and 6, but she has been asking to read more books about kids without water and listen to an Adventures in Odyssey story about the Underground Railroad.  She said, “I want to listen to it because then I might know what it would have been like to be a slave.”  I looked at her shocked as if she had just read a line directly out of an empathy book.  No matter what spurred it on (even if she knows it is what I want to hear) I am so grateful for it.

Granted we talked about our adoption from Ethiopia in general with our kids before now, the rice/beans reminder of the Famine reminds us of the country that our child is/will be born in.

  • Lukas got in trouble last week for hugging a little boy from school.  It was an entirely strange conversation with him and in the midst of it, I asked, “Why did you hug him so much?” He said, “He was just so cute”…..after some investigating on what he meant and why Lukas had uncontrollable hugging, he said, “I just want to squeeze him, Mama, he is so cute and small”.  Oh Lukas (and poor poor little boy in his class).  It serves me right – 1 – for squeezing my little boy so much when he doesn’t want me to and being a bad example and 2 – for talking so much about how fun it will be to hug and kiss our little African boy that now Lukas picks the smallest African American child in class to hug to peices.  Just figures it would backfire.
  • Adelaine has been talking lately (again maybe due to all this extra conversation about Ethiopia) about how excited she is to hug her little brother (or brother and sister if we get siblings).  She is excited to the extent that this morning as we snuggled in a late morning slumber and said, “Mama, can I pray?”  Um, yeah – Of course you can! Go right ahead.  She prays then and there:”God, please help my little brother run up to me and hug and kiss me when I come home from school.  Amen…….(long pause) ……Mama – that’s all I had to say.”  Sounds good to me!

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30 Days of Famine – Week 1

I’m not sure what I expected in our first week of family famine reflection, but I’ve been a little surprised how it has been.

Before rice/beans dinner each night we did one of the following things:

We have viewed some different videos about famine:  http://youtu.be/O8H_Fiyz24g  http://youtu.be/R8oUHpu6reQ

We have read 2 books on life in Ethiopia (particularly because that is where we are adopting from – shows the hard parts of life and the beautiful parts of life there).  We read Beatrice’s Goat – a sweet children’s book that shows how life changing a goat can be to a child’s life (so the positive part of making a difference and not just the horrors of famine).

We reflected on the quote from Mother Teresa:  “When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.”  We asked “what does that mean?”  Lukas plainly answered, “It means that that is someone dies of hunger it is because others didn’t help that person.”   Alright.  So you get it….to some degree.

In a family discussion, we had asked the question “Did you do anything special to be born to a family that had food, had a home?”  “Did a that is starving in Somalia right now do anything wrong to be born into a family that doesn’t have food?  “What does that mean?”  “Do we OWN our things, our money? Whose is it?”…etc…the conversation seemed very one-sided and like the kids didn’t really listen…and I was disappointed that they didn’t reflect more to take it further at the time.

But, how did the rest go?

Well – I mostly expected the kids to despise the rice/beans (in this situation you don’t want rioting, but you don’t actually want your kids to love the food, because they are supposed to reflect on how lucky they are other times to have other food).  Well – it totally figures:  My kids have NEVER been very into rice and beans – but the day I start this famine – all of a sudden, they LOVE IT – they can’t get enough of it.  They say “I just could eat more and more of this rice and beans – we are so lucky to have rice and beans….ummmm it takes so good”.  It is entirely possible that my son is being sarcastic after picking up my cues on what I am looking for and my daughter is just mimicking him, but honestly – it is ticking me off.  If they keep this good behavior and food habits up – we will move to cornmeal by the end of the month and see how they like it! he he he (evil laugh).  No, but seriously – while their initial enthusiasm certainly wasn’t expected, they are just now starting to tire of the rice/beans and if they don’t “feel” all I intend, I may consider even limit the rice/beans buffet.

It is in fact my poor husband that has suffered the most.  I don’t want to go too far into his bathroom habits or into the extent of the hilarity of the things he has said to me in the past couple of days, but the rice/beans diet has massively messed up his digestive track.  It is really sad, yet somehow hysterical, to watch.  Example:  The second night of it, he SWORE he was experiencing something similar to labor in his sporatic stomach cramps and began to yell from the couch calling out for ice chips for his lips.  (I cannot recall if in fact his legs were up as if in stirrups as well – not sure).  There have been some amazingly funny and inappropriate comments made.  What a good sport.

With the kids, they hadn’t had any profound moments beyond “that is really sad” or “I’m so glad that isn’t me” until after the night that we asked them about if they “deserved” to be born into our family and what was truly “fair” about them having good things and others not.  Entitlement is a big thing to me (or actually the lack of it, because I find entitlement disgusting thought I am sure I reak of it).  During our conversation, they were messing around with each other and driving me crazy so I thought surely the night was a waste.  However, at bedtime, I came upstairs to overhear Adelaine in her room talking to herself saying, “Well, that is just not fair that my girl in South America (her sponsored child) doesn’t have as many blankets as I do or as many toys as I do.  I am her friend and that just isn’t fair”  I walked in and asked her about it all.  She insisted that she needed to give her toys and blankets to her sponsored child (who is her exact age/birthday through World Vision).  I convinced her that her money could go further if she saved up her allowance to send it to her little girl to buy her own blanket and she agreed.  So far the last couple days, she has had some VERY TEMPTING times to spend her allowance and has declined in order to continue save up her money.  AMEN!

I’ll update you again in a week – gotta go – I have a rice/beans cramp!  Where’s that Metamucil?

Some other good links that are helpful in thought and ideas:  http://blog.worldvision.org/conversations/what-would-you-give-up/?cpage=all

http://blog.worldvision.org/disaster-relief/victory-in-the-war-on-hunger/

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