Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption

Becoming a CASA Worker

Becoming a CASA Worker

Becoming a CASA Worker

The above graphic on Becoming a CASA Worker might give you an idea of what one does.  This is a volunteer program, for the most part.  Social workers are tired.  They are overloaded with work and laws that really do nothing in the grand scheme of things.  It is sad.  I have known (and know) some amazing social workers.  Then, I have known some “out for blood” people that turns people away from this important work.  Social work is a thankless job.  Honestly, I have such respect for these men and women going in and trying to do their best to help these children.

CASA

A CASA worker, again, is a volunteer job.  When I was a worker, it was about 9 years ago.  We were waiting for Jude’s adoption to go through.  I needed something to feel like I’m doing something to help someone.

There was a lady that I answered to.  We had meetings and classes.  Also, I would go with her to court and observe to see how things were handled within the courtroom.  I have never been one to shy away from a courtroom.  They are actually peaceful to me.  It can be frustrating when you see something so clear and then another decision is made by the judge.  Once done with the classes and following my boss, I was sworn in, by the judge.  Then I was able to testify if needed.

What I Did

I was the voice of the child.  That is the whole point of being a CASA worker.  We advocate for the child.  Sometimes you take the stand and sometimes you don’t.  Each person has someone working for them and being their voice.  There are the attorney’s (for both parties and the who represents the state), guardian ad litem (represents the child as their attorney), social worker (works towards reunification and closely with the parent(s), R&C worker (the foster parent’s advocate), and a CASA worker (the child’s advocate).

It sounds intimidating but it really isn’t.

Yet, it is a responsibility that you have to take seriously.  You have to look the part, behave the part, and know your stuff.  There was a situation, where a certain social worker, who didn’t care for me, put me on the spot.  It is no great secret there is no love loss between us but I tried to remain civil.  She had a hard time with that and refused to take the stand.  In fact, she said I “knew it all” and that I would handle it.

Well.  He called me up to the stand.

Guess what?

I handled it in direct opposition that this worker wanted it handled.  This is not a sparring match between two people who can’t play well together.  Honestly, this is about the child(ren) and helping them keep their core family together if we can.

I Loved the Job

For real, I would have done this permanently had Jude not been with me.  When he came home, he was my 100% focus.  Maybe one day I will get back in the groove.  I’m sure things have changed in the last 8 years.  So, it is best that you call your local agency and find out what you need to do in order to be a CASA worker.  It is totally worth it.

Call to Action

We are not all called to adopt BUT we are all called to do something.  Is this something?  Shadow a worker and see if what they do fits into your idea of what a CASA worker does.  Seeing positive family reunifications is so rewarding.  There are other things that you will see that will hurt your heart, to the core.  Yet, we are placed in that position for a reason.  Spread the love of Jesus in all that you do.

If you have any questions, let me know!

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Foster Care Awareness Month

 

Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption

Foster Care Awareness Month

Foster Care Awareness Month

Foster Care Awareness Month

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month.  Foster Care…scary words, huh?  It was for me and Big Daddy when we started this journey many many years ago.  I have so many thoughts going through my head when I even utter that phrase.

Foster Care.

When we began our journey, we went in SO naive.  I mean googly-eyed and just eager to “fix,” “save,” and “help.”  Oh, my goodness.  We learned, quickly, that that was not the case.

Please remember, this is OUR journey.  These are OUR feelings.  This is OUR story.  Your story will be different.  That’s the beauty of life and different perspectives.  I’m PRO foster care.  I just wish we were better prepared for what we went through.

Before I Begin

In the lakes area, where I live, the numbers are staggering.  Across the board, staggering.  Every child deserves a home.  Also, every child deserves a last name.  Every child deserves safety and their basic needs met.  Bless…every child deserves love and a chance.  Every.  Single.  Child.  Whether they are fresh from the womb or 40 years old…EVERYONE deserves a family.

My Feels are Feeling

We were so naive.  I think I mentioned that.  We were eager.  First, we had our PS-MAPP classes.  10 weeks, 3 hours a week, sitting through classes re-learning how to parent.  We were not completely welcomed.  Judged, if you will.  There were people there that were older, older couples, younger couples, singletons.  I remember looking across the room and this one couple flat out asked us what we were doing in that class. That we had no business being in there because we already “had” children.  It wasn’t fair for us to make available children when some people in this world “can’t biologically have” children.  Bear in mind, in this class, I was there by myself.  Big Daddy had to work and did one on one classes.  So, I fielded some of the hate all alone.

Punch in the Gut

That statement took the wind right out of my sails.  I have many friends who cannot “biologically” have children.  Some have remained “childless” from society’s perspective.  Yet…they are just as much a parent then I am.  They love, deeply.  Sacrifice for others whether that is for their stepchildren/nieces/nephews/cousins/god-children or animals.  It is beautiful to witness.  There is beauty to be found in the ashes.

I have friends who have chosen to adopt BEFORE they biologically had children.  That is how they wanted it all along.  Some women can easily conceive and then make the choice to “prevent” conception in a permanent manner.  Then, they regret “playing God” and move towards adoption.

However, you come to the cross in how your family is structured…it is YOUR journey.  Yours.  No one should judge another for having no children or 1000 kids.  It is simply none of your business.  Gracious.  There can be so much hate, judgment, and condemnation.

Ways You Can Help

Not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to do something!  Here are so many tangible ways to help a foster child(ren), foster family, adoptive family, or a child you see that may need a little extra love.

  • Pray.  For the child, their parents and bio family, the foster family and extended family, judges, attorneys, guardians, social workers, counselors.  Can you even imagine, going from the chaos of an unsafe home, the only home you know, and leaving with a stranger?  Then, being left with a stranger.  Sleeping in a strange bed with people that you don’t even know their names or where the light switch is.  I cannot even begin to imagine.
  • Respite.  Provide a weekend, afternoon, or just a drive for the foster family with this new child.  Respite is a paid position if you so desire, it is basically babysitting.  Believe me, everyone will welcome a short break.
  • Meal or Errands.  Provide a meal or errands for the foster/adoptive family.  Cook one for now, and have one extra ready for the freezer for later.  What a help.  Running errands helps to contain the chaos.  It is so hard to get out and about sometimes.  There are just moments when we need someone to run to the bank but due to a crisis, we just can’t get there.  Be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Other Ways To Help

  • Help Around the House.  Mow the yard.  Do a load of laundry.  Come clean while people nap.  Oh, if I had that…people to go to the doctor’s appointments with me.  I was wagging 5 kids, by myself.  I had no help.
  • Be a Non-Judgemental Ear.  I never had that either.  Just listen.  Listen to all the words, even if they are un-Scriptural.  Don’t try and fix it.  Just listen and love.  Pray.  Point to Christ.
  • See a Need.  Meet a Need.  No questions asked.
  • Volunteer at a Boys and Girls home.  Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Youth facilities.
  • Become a CASA worker.  Be the voice for the child.  Worth it.
  • Donate to Moses Basket or Bags of Love (these are specific to our area).  You can call your local DCBS office and find out who you can donate items to help children coming into care.
  • Love.  Be Jesus with skin on.  Be His hands and feet.

Tomorrow

I may share the story of our first placement.  It was a hard time, personally, during my life.  Then these children blew life into my life and I was renewed.  Only to be devastated a short time after.  I know what satan’s eyes look like.  Met him, in person.  Still struggle, after all these years.  Today is not that day that I want to revisit that pain.

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Life or Something Like It, Medical Issues

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Here I am, sorting through the 58,882 pictures and the 1300 videos and it happened.  I began Falling Down the Rabbit Hole of memories.  Frankly, I am an emotional wreck!

The Basics

I mean there are the annual Christmas pictures, birthday pictures, and such.  Those pictures are fun to look at.  To see the kids’ faces change over the years.  The laughter and joy on their little faces.  These are fun.

The Rest

Then, there are the ones that make me choke back the tears.  I sat and looked through the pictures of two of our children, Shay and Tay.  We had them for a short time, but our goal was adoption.

The social worker was evil.  Just pure evil.  I know a lot of social workers and the ones that I know are hardcore and good.  They want the best for these children in tough places.  I am blessed to know them.

This one, however, was not one of the good ones.  She convinced the judge that I’m an unfit mother.  This was all done because she wanted to adopt these children.  Vile human.  I struggle with forgiveness.

Ethiopia

Looking at the pictures from Ethiopia makes me feel so many feels.  The referral picture of Jude.  I remember where I was when I saw his little face the first time.  The pictures of our first trip.  So full of joy and promise and excitement.

Then the trial…15 mths of fighting for our son.  Seeing other people’s pictures of my son.  I’m so thankful for them and for thinking of us during this time.  Yet, it reminds me of the darkness that fell over me.  The uncertainty.  Pain.

Joy That Comes in the Morning

Then, there is the joy of seeing him again.  The look on his face.  Him, in all white, with these beautiful wildflowers he had picked.  The “mommies” all walking with him.  I remember the joy on their faces of us *finally* coming.  Also, the sadness, as he was a staple at the transition house.

Granny’s House

Then there was the year that granny died.  Wow.  Gut punch.  I didn’t realize I took so many pictures of her house.  Yet, there they all were.  Memories of such joyous times with her and a twinge of sadness of other things.

Hunter Before

The pictures and videos of Hunter blowing into our lives.  He was like a whirlwind that blew new life into our family.  His presence created so much healing within my family and my extended family.

As we should all know with adoption…with great joy comes great loss.  He has experienced so much loss in his little life.  His biological father, whom he will never know.  His biological siblings from his father’s side.  The loss of his biological mom to drugs and prison.  Also, the loss of the only “father” that he knew and his kids.  The loss of his health.

Bigger Picture

The thing I have to look at is how far he has come.  Yes, he will never know his bio dad.  On the flip side, Big Daddy is a phenomenal daddy to him.  They have a wonderful bond.  The only “father” he knew, from his past, has made some epically poor choices and is in a bad state of being right now.  He is not safe.  His biological mom is my niece and oh how I love her.  I’m doing everything I can to keep her in his life.  We can only do so much, right now, since she is in prison.  However, once she is out…that is when the rubber meets the road.

For Now

I will absorb it all.  Take it all in stride.  Be thankful for the memories that were made and the lessons that were learned.  I can see God’s hand and the crimson thread He has woven throughout my life in pictures.

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Not for the Faint of Heart: July 14, 2010

 

 

Medical Issues

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.

These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning.
Often, people with FASDs have a mix of these problems.

What are FASDs?

FASDs refer to a range of effects that can happen to a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These conditions can affect each person in different ways and can range from mild to severe.

They can affect the mind or the body, or both. Because FASDs make up a group of disorders, people with FASDs can exhibit a wide range and mix of symptoms.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is one condition among the full range of FASDs. A
baby born with FAS has a small head, weighs less than other babies, and has
distinctive facial features.

Some of the behavioral and intellectual disabilities of people with FASDs include:

Difficulty with learning or memory
Higher than normal level of activity (hyperactivity)
Difficulty with attention
Speech and language delays
Low IQ
Poor reasoning and judgment skills
People born with FASDs can also have problems with their organs, including the heart and kidneys.

What causes FASDs?

FASDs are caused by a woman’s drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. When a woman drinks alcohol so does her baby. There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to drink during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. All drinks that contain alcohol, including wine and beer, can harm an unborn baby. There is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Alcohol can harm a baby at any time during pregnancy. So, to prevent FASDs, a woman should not drink alcohol while she is pregnant, or even when she might get pregnant. This is because a woman could get pregnant and not know it for up to 4 to 6 weeks. In the United States, nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

How many people have FASDs?

We do not know exactly how many people have an FASD. Few estimates are available. Based on community studies using physical examinations, experts estimate that the full range of FASDs among 6-7-year-old children in the United States and some Western European countries might be as high as 2 to 5 out of 100 school children (or 2% to 5% of
the population).

Are there treatments for FASDs?

FASDs last a lifetime. There is no cure for FASDs, but research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development.
There are many types of treatment options, including medication to help with some symptoms, behavior and education therapy, parent training, and other approaches. No one treatment is right for every child.

Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups, and changes as needed along the way.
There are a number of factors that can help reduce the effects of FASDs and help people with these conditions reach their full potential.

These factors include:

Diagnosis before 6 years of age
A loving, nurturing, and stable home environment during the school years
Absence of violence
Involvement in special education and social services

What can I do if I think my child has an FASD?

~Ask for a Referral.
If you or your health care provider thinks your child could have an FASD, ask your provider for a referral to a specialist (someone who knows about FASDs), such as a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, or clinical geneticist. In some cities, there are clinics whose staff have special training in diagnosing and treating children with
FASDs.

For providers and clinics in your area, visit the National and State Resource Directory from the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS)  or call 800–66–NOFAS (66327).
~Get an Evaluation
Call your state’s public early childhood system to request a free evaluation to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services. You do not need to wait for a health care provider’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.

Steps for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:

For children younger than 3 years old, contact your local early intervention system. To learn more, call (973) 642-8100.
For children 3 years old or older, contact your local public school system.  Even if your child is not old enough for kindergarten or enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.

To help your child reach his or her full potential, it is very important to get help for FASDs as early as possible!

For More Information

To learn more about FASDs, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or call 800–CDC–INFO
American Academy of Pediatrics FASD Toolkit 
Center for Parent Information and Resources call (973) 642-8100
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS)  or call 800–66–NOFAS (66327)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s FASD Center for Excellence

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Medical Issues

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

 What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?  RAD is a condition in which individuals have difficulty forming loving lasting
relationships.  Let me just tell you…this is HARD.  Seemingly, on the outside, things look great.  However, at home, it is like living in a nightmare.  Sadly, this is a nightmare that you do not wake up from.  Sometimes, it can be manageable.  For instance, medication for moods and sleep can help, sometimes.  However, their body starts building resistance to medications, so trial and error become the norm.

Some General Traits

Often have a nearly complete lack of ability to be genuinely affectionate with others.

Typically fail to develop a conscience and do not seem to trust.

Do not allow people to be in control of them due to this trust issue.

They can be surface compliant for weeks if there is no loving relationship involved.

However, with strangers, they can be extremely charming and appear loving.

Uneducated adults misinterpret this as the child trusting or caring for them. If they cannot trust and love their own family that loves them, they will not trust and love a casual acquaintance.

They do not think and feel like a normal person.

Some famous people with RAD

Hitler

Saddam Hussein

Edgar Alien Poe

Jeffrey Dahmer

Ted Bundy

Helen Keller

Isolated type, Predominant feeling is Sad

1. no friends
2. no touch
3. verbally compliant actually defiant

Evasive type, Predominant feeling is Fear

1. clingy
2. fake
3. charming
4. chatter
5. chameleon

Defiant type, Predominant feeling is Rage

1. cruel
2. charming
3. self-absorbed
4. destructive

Bizarre type

1. act crazy
2. constant noise

Causes

Any of the following conditions occurring to a child under 36 months of age puts a child at high risk for developing RAD:

~Maternal ambivalence toward pregnancy
~In-utero trauma, drugs, alcohol exposure
~Abuse
~Neglect
~Sudden separation from the primary caregiver
~Undiagnosed or painful illness such as colic or ear infections
~Inconsistent or inadequate daycare
~Chronic maternal depression
~Several moves and/or placements
~Unprepared mothers with poor parenting skills

Attachment Disorder Symptoms in Children

Superficially engaging & charming
Lack of eye contact on parents terms
Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers
Not affectionate on parents’ terms
Destructive to self, others, and material things (accident prone)
Cruelty to animals
Lying about the obvious (crazy lying)
Stealing
No impulse controls
Learning Lags
Lack of cause and effect thinking

More Issues

Lack of conscience
Abnormal eating patterns
Poor peer relationships
Preoccupation with fire
Preoccupation with blood & gore
Persistent nonsense questions & chatter
Inappropriately demanding & clingy
Abnormal speech patterns
Triangulation of adults
False allegations of abuse
Presumptive entitlement issues
Parents appear hostile and angry

Attachment Disorder Symptoms in Infants

~Does not use crying appropriately to get someone to address needs
~Often does not settle when needs are met by Mom
~Overreacts or often startles to touch, sound, and/or light
~Listlessness with no medical reason
~Limited holding onto or reaching for a caregiver
~Lack of appropriate stranger anxiety between 6 and 9 months of age
~Shows minimal interest in interacting with people
~Does not smile back or respond with activity to smites or baby talk
~Often does not follow human movement with their eyes
~Avoids eye contact
~Self abusive behavior
~Is resistant to cuddling

Great Quotes

When your brain works right, so can you. When your brain doesn’t work right, neither can you.” Daniel Amen, M.D.

“Experience changes the brain,” Bruce Perry, M.D,

Attachment is at the heart of all human endeavors.” Bruce Perry, M.D.

“Traditional therapy is useless for severely traumatized people, but especially children because it does not reach the parts of the brain that were most impacted by trauma.”  Bessel van der Kolk. M.D.

Complex (reactionary mind/brain stem) Survival mode

Fight – Defensive, tantrums argues, negative
Flight – Runs away, hypervigilant, stress-filled, anxious
Freeze- Shuts down emotions, shuts down learning, disassociates

Talking:

This is the first area that a child must gain self-control to begin the healing process.

Lies
Dumb questions
Unclear Speech
Jabbering
Swearing
Not answering
Why?
Arguing
I don’t know
Not accepting responsibility
Interrupting
Whining

Consequences vs. Punishment

Punishment turns thoughts to the outside of the child.

Consequences turn their thoughts inside.

Dramatic Displays:

Children need to be kept in close until they no longer need an audience to manipulate.

Flipping the bird
Overdramatic
Pity Parties
Fit Throwing
Aggression
Eye Rolling

Excretions:

It is essential that the child be 100% responsible for the clean-up of their own excretions after the age of five.

Urine
Feces
Flatulence
Vomit
Nasal Discharge
Spitting

Food Issues:

On one hand, you can’t make them eat it. On the other hand, you can’t make them stop eating either.  Sadly, they have to learn to control themselves. Honestly, a parent’s obligation as the nurturer is to provide nutritious meals three times a day.

Hiding food
Eating too much
Not eating
Picky eating
Eating rudely
Eating weird things

Friends and Family:

Relationships must begin between the mother and child.  Second, generalize to the father.  Third, to the family.  Fourth, to the community.  Lastly, to the world.

Peer relationships
Siblings rights
Abusing other kids
Setting up
Tattling
Pets

Prescribing the Problem:

When it’s not harmful to the child, pick your battles.  For instance, one avenue of intervention is prescribing the problem.

Chewing clothes
Chewing hands
Thumb sucking
Biting nails, lips, toes
Cracking knuckles
Picking boogers
Picking scabs
Masturbating
Crying wolf
Refusing medication
Nutrition
Allergies

Bedtime Issues:

Children need to sleep 10 to 12 hours a night with no light on. On the other hand, adults need to sleep 8 hours a night with no light on.

Setting alarm off
Not going to bed
Noise at night
Getting them up in the am and dressed

Restitution /Respite/Responsibility

~Restitution for stolen or intentionally stolen items should be double the replacement value of the item.

~It is the child’s responsibility to fill in the hole they dig with their inappropriate behaviors. The way they fill it in is by paying back with their time, their talent, or their energy.

~Stealing
~Running away
~Knives/weapons
~Destroying property
~Sabotaging fun
~Hygiene

From Others Toward Parents:

~Sometimes we have to say No

~No I won’t put my child in harm’s way by giving them freedoms they can’t handle.

~Parenting too tough, Nazis

~Not strict enough

~Munchhausen, Histrionic, Borderline, etc.

~Bad parent

~Don’t like/love child

~Scape-goating child

~Try harder

~Just love him more

Support Ideas

Realize this is a very painful situation. If you are on the Mom’s side, you are on the child’s side. Sadly, if you take the child’s side against the Mom, they both lose.

Equally important, listen with open ears and hearts. For instance, you should not judge, or be critical. Again, condemning, criticizing, or blaming Does Not Help to Lift the burden, don’t load it down.

Make short, loving phone calls (occasionally) to listen and encourage, not to advise, not to gather information, or “check on them”- Tell her she can chat whenever she needs an ear.

Finally, do Not give unasked-for advice.

Take all information as confidential.

It Is very helpful to educate yourself about Attachment Disorder.

**** Do not say just say ‘Let me know if I can help.’  Do something to help.****

Practical Ideas

1. Take her to lunch or dinner.
2. Rent a funny movie and share it.
3. Send her flowers, chocolate, or cards with love and a smile on it.
4. Bring her some dinner or baked goods,
5. Hugs are always heading. Moms need 12 a day minimum.
6. Pray for them.

More Ideas

Run errands to help lessen the load,
Take the kids somewhere for the afternoon. Be sure she knows it’s because she deserves a break and not because she can’t handle it.
Consider giving her a gift certificate for a massage, manicure, or hair salon.
Give her Mozart’s music or some other calming or uplifting tunes.
Give her a good book.
Buy her bubble bath and watch the kids for an hour or so white she soaks to music.
Remind her of her special traits and talents.
Tell the child often, in front of her, how lucky they are to have a mom like this.
Absolutely, never show up without calling to check for an appropriate time to visit.
Never tell her to “Just love the child more”. If you already have, beg forgiveness for not understanding.

Families by Design

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Confabulation The “True” Story

Confabulation The "True" Story

Confabulation The “True” Story

 

In Confabulation The “True” Story according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary,

CONFABULATION means

1to talk informally 
2to hold a discussion 
>>>>>>3to fill in gaps in memory by fabrication<<<<<<<

A major characteristic of brain-damaged patients is the tendency to confabulate—to hide and dissemble about their damage.  —Peter R. Breggin

Now, I have stumbled upon another site called FASD FAMILIES.  Though it is geared more towards younger FASD kids, it has a ton of useful information.  One has to realize that, say there is a kid who is 16 years old, physically.  On a good day, they are developmental, emotionally, or mentally 8 yrs old.  When they are escalated, you are dealing with a 4-year-old.

No-Fault of the Child

This is at no fault to the child but to the situation of why they have FASD.  Fetal Alcohol Syndrome causes prenatal brain damage that they deal with for the rest of their lives.  The poor decision of a mother (or father), leads to a lifetime of struggles for their children.  This author defines confabulation, as well, and I thought it was PERFECT.

CONFABULATION: The fancy word is confabulation. Some would say it’s lying. I think it’s more like their version of the story becomes their truth because they don’t know the difference between truth and reality. Once they tell a story, they accept it as gospel.

^^^^^YES, HOLLA, PREACH IT, YOU GO, GIRL, ^^^^^

I have had a shit-tastic day with my oldest dd, 17.  Seriously, if it wasn’t one thing, it was 500 others.  The excuses flowed, the lies confabulations were on point and I fell for it.  I freaking fell for it.

These are the mistakes I made (in no particular order):
  • I asked a question, I knew the answer too.
  • I began escalating because she was escalated.
  • I’m not even in town to deal with it because I am in the hospital with another child.
  • I used too many words.
  • Other people were involved, though they were stepping in for an absent me not realizing they were jumping into quicksand.
  • We talked too long.

What an evil vicious cycle FASD is….or any of it!

FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)

FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)

PFAS (Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)

ARND (Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopment Disorder)

ARBD (Alcohol-Related Birth Defects)

It is a horrific, invisible disease.

I feel as if I have failed as a parent because I cannot get through to these children, though we are the only family they remember.  That damn Amygdala brain (primitive brain that remembers in utero to 3 yr memories).  It is always there.

We have tried therapy, meds, regular dr visits, pastoral counseling, reading the Word, writing the Word, putting positive people in their lives, talking till I am blue in the face…nothing gets through.  Nothing.

Now, the big question is…

HOW DO I PARENT THAT WITHOUT LOSING MY MIND?

The quick answer is “I have no clue.”  The longer answer is “I REALLY have no clue.”

I guess it is time to not only continue to study about Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, in order to help Hunter…but to find the answers.

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Adoption Choosing for My Heart to Be Broken

Adoption Choosing for My Heart to Be Broken

Adoption Choosing for My Heart to Be Broken

My story Adoption Choosing for My Heart to Be Broken, is a story that I choose to hold so tightly to my heart.  The pain is almost unbearable.  It isn’t almost unbearable it is all the way unbearable.  My story is coming full circle in so many ways.
Choosing Adoption
Almost 10 years ago, Big Daddy and I decided to expand our family through the blessing of adoption.  We had had 3 biological children, and we decided when our youngest was 2, that he would “get fixed,” and that would be that.  We later regretted that decision.  Our conviction was to step out of our comfort zone.  Together we decided to embark on an adventure.
Adventure it has been.
We quickly realized that international adoption was out of the question because the cost was astronomical.  Also, we decided that we had already done the baby thing.  So we focused on older children through our state foster care system.  In time, we took all the required steps.  This included 10 weeks of PS-MAPP classes, we filled out paperwork, worked on our home, got our home study, background checks, criminal checks, so much paperwork.  We were finally approved after what seemed like forever.  I believe it was over the summer when we were approved.
Foster to Adopt
We were approved in June to adopt from the foster care system.  I was ecstatic.  We knew that we did not want to foster.  I just didn’t think I could give the children back.  We were going to adopt.  That was our grand plan.  The next month, my sweet granny decided it was time for her to see Jesus.  My heart.  I can’t even begin to describe what her loss did to me. In my head, I knew she was better off.  Also, I knew she would never want to come back here for anything.  One day, I know I will see her again, but she was my person.  She was my source of strength.  That hole is still very much in my heart.  I began to sink into a depression.
Depression and Adoption
Depression is nothing new to me.  I’ve struggled with it my entire life.  It was a black time filled with many tears.  In October of that year, we got the call.  My goodness….I thought we had won the lottery.  We wanted just one more child, and we were getting two!  A girl (2) and a boy (10 mths).  I immediately began gathering things, preparing my heart, my other children, my family.  I was on cloud nine.
My First Set of Kids from the Foster Care System
My babies …I remember when they walked in…so frightened.  So tiny.  My daughter couldn’t speak, and my son looked like Don King.  His hair LOL…still makes me chuckle.  The social worker came in and stayed while we all met. My kids had a car seat, a coat, a sippy cup, a bottle, and the clothes on their backs.  That was it.  We were set to adopt because they had already been in the system.  Sadly they had also been returned to their birth mom and now back in the system.  What was told to us was to prepare for these precious babies to be a forever part of our family.
All About My Son
At the time, we lived in a 1000 sq ft home with 5 kids and us and one bathroom.  It was crowded but doable.  I remember taking my son out of that 6 mth onesie he was wearing and when I did….he looked like an octopus unfolding.  There were LOTS of rolls, lots of legs, and lots of arms.  Bless, he had been shoved in that onesie that was entirely too small for him.
We noticed that he could comfortably wear 18 mth clothes.  He had never eaten food.  All he did was drink out of a bottle.  When we introduced food to him…..he ate and ate and ate.  I’ve never in my life seen such a phenom.  His laughter.  Oh my, it would light up a room.  He laughed from the top of his head all the way down, and his eyes would dance all over the room. He was contagious.
All About My Daughter
My daughter was a bit more reserved.  She was a bit pickier of an eater. Yet, she liked to eat shoes and struggled with sleep.  Her teeth….I used to laugh and say she could eat a corn cob through a picket fence…those babies stuck straight out of her head.  She was shy but loved to be held and loved to look around.  The fun thing is that she was mesmerized by the kids and all of the new surroundings.  There was a great love of cats and flowers.  So precious.
Constant Sickness
My kids were VERY sick when they came to us. Our son had asthma, and our daughter had a bit of it, so I would sit them in their high chairs and do breathing treatments for them, together.  My daughter had ringworm which spread to all of us.  It seemed like whatever was going around we ended up with.  Gracious, it was hard but joyous.
Deceitful Social Worker
Our social worker (or the kids’ worker) was a deceitful woman.  Her intentions (as stated to us) was that SHE wanted to adopt them but couldn’t because it was an ethical issue.  I sent pictures, gave updates, she came for visits…I did everything I was taught to do and then some.  After Thanksgiving…we ALL got the flu.  I was in bed, the babies were in bed with me (all 5 babies)…we were all so sick. I called the worker to see if she could possibly take the babies to their doctor’s appointment.
She had previously told me that she would be there to help in any way.  I stupidly took her up on that offer.  When she got there, my babies were needing to be admitted for dehydration.  I immediately pulled my vomiting self out of bed.  Then I got childcare for my other children and I hauled off to the hospital.  There I stayed day and night for a couple of days. Other than us being sick, I thought everything was okay.
It was not okay.
When the SW went back to her office, she called for a court date.  She told me that I did not need to be there, it was just a review.  I needed to stay home with the babies, and she would call if any changes with visitation were changing or if TPR (termination of parental rights) date was set.  I did that.  The babies and I were home.  I was deep cleaning the house, but first I had to set the babies in their chairs for their breathing treatments. I got the call.
The Call
The call was not from the SW, it was from her supervisor. All I remember hearing was “you have been deemed unfit as a parent, and we are coming to get the babies.  Have them ready in an hour.”  I sat in silence.  The supervisor had to repeat herself several times because I was not comprehending what she said to me.  I was unfit because my kids had had the flu.  Because I had the flu.  I was unfit.  My babies were leaving.
Losing Our Children
I called Big Daddy, who was at work.  Still, I don’t remember all I said to him.  However, I do remember screaming and saying “she is coming to get my babies.  She is coming.  Please come home.  The babies are leaving.”  He got home and I was on the floor with all my kids surrounding me and the sound of me wailing was heard in the driveway.  Everyone was crying, but my cry was from the pits of my soul…animalistic almost.  She pulled up, and we all stood at the door.
The kids were screaming.  They were holding onto us and screaming MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY.  My daughter was screaming, my son was screaming, I was screaming.  That worker looked like evil had just taken hold of her.  I asked her why she lied to me…why was I unfit…why was she doing this?  Her goal was for her to adopt or get them close to her so she could have constant access.
Make It Stop
I finally ran to the bathroom because I was trying to muffle out their screams.  Those screams still haunt me.  I told my husband that I was going to bed.  When I woke up…I wanted to sign that they EVER lived in my house.  I tried to erase all the memories….as short-lived, as they were….they were still my kids.  They stole my heart.  I told him I would not get up until I knew it was all gone.  He took care of everything.  Losing children in that manner is like my kids died and I didn’t even get visitation to say goodbye.  I didn’t know where they were or if they were safe.  Also, if they were back with an unsafe mom, where they hurt.  Nothing.  I knew nothing and I still don’t.
Circumstantial Depression
My depression escalated quickly…to the point where the doctor thought I was going to kill myself (which I wasn’t).  He put me on antidepressants and some other meds to help even me out and get me out of bed.  That was in January of the next year.  I don’t really remember much of the rest of that time. My next good memory was when Gigi and Catfish moved in with us in March.  That is a whole new chapter.
One Year Later
In December of that next year, was the annual foster child Christmas party.  It was huge…Santa was there, food, gifts, lots of people.  I came in and sat down. I knew my kids were 3 and 2 and my prayer was that they were not there.  We all came in and sat down, and I looked across the room, and there sat my babies.  I just stared.
Bart wanted to go and speak to them, and I told him that I just couldn’t do it.  I told him my two fears. 1) That they would not remember me. Let’s face it.  They weren’t with us for long, they were 2 and almost 12 mths…they were babies.  That would break my heart.  2) That they would remember me and wonder where I’ve been.
Seeing My Babies Again
I did walk up to that table.  The children were with another foster family. Their birth mom couldn’t do it.  I squatted down, and I merely whispered: “Hello babies.”  They both looked across the way and saw me squatted between tables.  I was prepared for them not to know me.  What happened in those following moments is what I hold in my heart so tightly….they both jumped off their foster mother’s lap and came running screaming MOMMY! MOMMY!
I cried as they jumped in my arms.  We all hugged so tightly.  I kissed every part of their faces.  I thanked their foster mother for letting me hold them and love them and for her loving them so well.  My heart was full of joy…for a moment.  That evil social worker saw what was happening.  She walked over and ripped them out of my arms again.  Again, they were screaming and crying while she physically removed them from me.
Satan in the form of a Social Worker
I left.  There was no way I could be that close to my kids and not be allowed to love them. Sadly, I couldn’t be safe around that evil woman whom I still have not forgiven.  I simply couldn’t.  Bart did go the next year, and he did take a couple of pictures for me, but they didn’t remember him.  That is the last pic I have of them.
Adoption Choosing for My Heart to Be Broken
So when we are again, embarking down a similar road…a road where I’m forced to relive this pain and hurt…my sister said that someone told her this “when you are a foster parent…..it is my job for my heart to be broken, so the hearts of the baby’s (regardless of age) do not have to be broken.”  I step in..my heart is shattered….their heart is whole.  I take the blows, I take the beatings.  I take the pain to prevent it from falling and permanently damaging these children.
More Kids
Grayce and Daniel came to live with us in March of that following year.  It has been difficult with moments of glory.  Our adoption was about 2 years after they moved in with us.  We had to do LOTS of therapy, lots of counsel, lots of trials (you know, where there is a judge), and lots of red tape to get through, but we did it.
Would I change it?
No, I wouldn’t.  Even though satan tried to use the difficulties of our children’s past (reactive attachment disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, learning disabilities, behavioral issues, trust issues, food issues, ADHD, odd, PTSD, blah blah blah), he did not steal our joy.  Jesus is continuously refining us, through our trials to be more like Him.  It hurts to be stretched and pulled and refined…..but through His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness…we are plugging along.
They are all my blessings.  Every single one of them is worth it.
Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption, Guest Blogger

What It is Like to Be a Foster Child by Gigi

What It is Like to Be a Foster Child by Gigi.  My daughter, Gigi (14), has had a lot of things happen, in her life.  She has not had a good beginning, but I’m a firm believer that her middle and end will be spectacular.  For her (and the others mentioned) own protection, I will change the names in this snippet and I will not divulge in her private story of how she came to be a foster child.  I asked her a question, the other night, and that question was “what do you want people to know about being in the foster care system.”  This is her answer.  I ask that you do not copy/paste/reblog this without permission as stated in my copyright disclosure at the bottom of my blog. This is from her heart and it is beautifully written.

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What I Want People to Know About Being in the Foster Care System

What It is Like to Be a Foster Child by Gigi

by Gigi C. aged 14

Foster care is a scary thing because I didn’t know what was happening. I was at the city pool with Carla, one of the people that my mom would leave me with when she didn’t want to parent. I was swimming and playing and then my life changed. All of a sudden panic happened all around me. Carla was crying, my brother’s half-sister (who was always mean to me), Morgan (Carla’s daughter) was crying. I started crying because everyone else was crying. I didn’t know what was going on. She might have told me on the way there, but I don’t really remember. I didn’t understand and all of the sudden, I was pulled away from Carla by my new foster parents.  I kicked and screamed and held onto Carla as tight as I could, but I wasn’t as strong as Tim, my new foster dad.

Entering Foster Care

When you enter foster care, you don’t know whether those people are going to want you.   If they didn’t want you, you were in constant rotation. You go from one family to another. You feel like you are being pulled around and left at stranger’s houses. Kids are taught not to talk to strangers or accept candy from them.  Kids are told to run if a stranger approaches them.  You know nothing about these people. Sadly, you just know that you have to stay with them.

You are not familiar with them, the smells, their actions. Then, you begin to build up a wall and you learn to stop trusting people. The foster parents say that they “might” want to keep you, but it never goes through and they then send you to other people. You quickly begin to not trust people. When kids are in foster care, a lot of people want to help. These kids need space. I felt cramped. I was not in control of anything or anyone. Everything I knew was gone.

How I Felt Going In

First, when people knew I was in foster care, it bothered me a lot. It is easier now. It wasn’t my choice to be in foster care. Things are getting easier and the people that do know don’t ask a lot of questions. It made me want to punch people because it is none of their business. Foster kids are just like regular kids…their family just didn’t want them. The kids had no say, the parents made the choices for us. The first thought that a kid will have, going into foster care, is “was it my fault, did I say something that made someone mad, did I do something wrong?” The kids don’t realize that it isn’t their fault.

How I Am Treated

People need to treat foster kids with respect because they are normal people. People look at us like we don’t belong and that our family is messed up. Take a normal kid from a normal family and put it up against a kid who is in foster care and who doesn’t have a normal family…people compare those things too much. They think they are better than us, but really we are the same. The only difference is the kid needs a family that will love them and takes care of them. Stop looking at us differently. We are the same.

What Foster Kids Need

Foster kids need more love, support, and care because as the child grows up, they will feel like they don’t belong because they feel like the foster family just feels sorry for them. Sympathizing is not the same thing…we don’t want to be felt sorry for. In a normal family, with born to them kids, they aren’t felt sorry for. Don’t point out we are foster children. We just want to belong.

The Questions

How many kids do you have? Is that child really yours?…just say yes. When you say “no, this child is a foster child?” It makes us not feel wanted, that we don’t belong, or people look at us with sympathy. We do belong…we belong to you. Treat us like we belong to you. Don’t treat us differently. Don’t point out our differences to others.

What Families Need

Families who get into foster care need to be more supportive of that child and understand that child. The child needs to feel like they are wanted. When they don’t feel that they are wanted, that causes problems. The kids start pushing people away and they build the wall so high that no one can get in. They are the only ones that can protect themselves. This is our only defense.

My Fears

The fear of letting someone hurt me again is too much to bear. We can never be loved again because my family gave me away. When one family doesn’t love me, then how can anyone else. We think that we can’t do anything.  Also, we can’t succeed.  Sadly, that we are castaways because we weren’t wanted by that first family. Honestly, I feel we don’t deserve love.

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Adoption Terms

Adoption Terms

Adoption Terms

Adoption Terms Closed, Semi-Open, Open.  These terms can be daunting.  I’m not sure about the other adoptive mamas out there, but when we first embarked on the adoption journey…these terms were never tossed around.
After 8 years of being in the adoption world, I am very familiar with each of these things, and I stop and look at what they each mean to my family.
Ethiopian Adoption
In an ideal world, my kids would have been parented by their biological parents.  My two children’s biological mother would have had a great support system, who would teach her how to parent correctly.  My Ethiopian son’s biological mother would’ve been taught basic hygiene, basic first aid, how to garden, how to manage money, and how to live, successfully, in the country that she loves.
Sad Reality of Adoption:  International, Foster to Adopt, or Intra-Family Adoption
We live in a fallen world.  We all have a choice…whether good or bad.  The reality is, when bad choices are made, there are natural consequences that will occur.  For my two kids…their lives were riddled with all sorts of negative things.  It has changed their lives and shaped who they are and their thought processes.  My Ethiopian son had medical issues that could not have been avoided.  A death occurred, and unforeseen issues came to the surface.
Foster Care Adoption
The Lord saw fit for us to bring these three children into our home and into our family.  It has not always been easy.  In my earlier (more stupid) years, I was OVERLY protective and the thought of biological family issues flooding my life or my children’s lives… simply was not welcome.  I wanted nothing to do with their biological mother or extended family.  Sadly, I was angry, and my mama bear instincts were to protect these kids who had been hurt so bad.  We decided to have a closed adoption.  I wanted no contact, no pictures, no discussions.  Nothing.

International Ethiopian Adoption

With my son, from ET, I yearned for open adoption.  I knew things, I have a heart for his sweet mama and his brothers and sisters.  Open adoption is not possible due to laws (ET and American) and the fact that an ocean separates us.  This sweet family lives deep in the jungle.  I have no way of getting them anything.  So we hang pictures, we talk about them, we watch videos.  I want my son to know that she loved him so deeply that she gave him life twice.
Me, Maturing Over Time
As I have matured, Jesus has worked on my heart.  I have found my son’s siblings.  Also, I have met his sister and spoken with one of his brothers on the phone.  I have yet to talk with his younger brother and really don’t expect to.  Amazingly, I counsel with, encourage, pray over and with these young adults and their younger brother.  They have sent pictures.  I’ve written down stories they have shared.  I have a medical history and birth history.  I am paving the path for a relationship between my son and his biological siblings.
Biological Siblings
For my daughter, I have found her only biological sister.  I’ve been speaking to her for a few months.  There have been things I have learned, but not much.  I do have pictures and a little medical history, so that is good. She is not as open to talking to me as my son’s biological siblings.  That is okay, it will happen, in time.  If it doesn’t, I’ve still had the blessing of finding her.  Also, I have had the opportunity to counsel her and pray.  Again, the path is being paved.
As for my son’s father….we will never ever have any contact with him. I do have a few pictures, but it is a safety issue.  My children’s safety is not worth trying to contact this man.  At least I know where he is located.  Sadly, I really do not want to know anymore.
Biological Parents
Their mother, I have not been in contact with.  I have a heart for her, though it is a guarded heart.  I give her pictures, she calls, I have been to her apartment, I’ve met her new fiance’.  I’ve counseled with, yelled at, been yelled at, hugged, loved, cried with this woman.  I am also in contact with their grandmother and aunt.
I would say that I have a semi-open adoption with two of my kids’ birth family (except for the unsafe father and the father that wants nothing to do with any of us).  People question me, a lot, about why I make an effort.  Why do I search?  Why do I contact you?  What is wrong with me?
Accepting the Truth of Adoption
My answer is simple.  I can never change who my children’s biological family is.  I can’t take that biology away from them.  When they turn 18, they will want to meet them and possibly have a relationship with them.  I won’t be able to stop.  So instead of fighting, dreading, or letting fear control me…I embrace it, prepare for it, and I smooth over the uglies.  Finally, I tell my kids that they were loved in the only way they knew to love.  Do they know the bad stuff?  Yes.  I am a firm believer that every child deserves to know his or her story by the time they are 12.  That was one sucky conversation.  I also tell them the good stuff…it may be small…but it is still there.
Why fight something that is inevitable?  It isn’t worth it.  I’d rather Jesus guide my path in the search so I can present all the information to my children when the time comes.
Future Adoptions
With any future adoptions…I will still choose semi adoption or open adoption.  One day, I would love to be chosen by a birth mom.  To be able to allow her to be in their child’s life, in a controlled, safe environment.  I would love for grandparents to be grandparents if that is an option.  Aunts and uncles to still be aunts and uncles.  I will say when red flags occur…changes could be made.  Safety is a number one priority.
I may be done with adopting kids…if so….then thankful for the ones I have.

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Falsehoods and Truth of Adoption

Falsehoods and Truth of Adoption

Falsehoods and Truth of Adoption.

Let me start off by saying that ADOPTION is a beautiful thing!  It has been a desire of mine since I was a child and the Lord saw fit to bring this desire to fruition.  Yet there are some Falsehoods and Truth of Adoption.

There are several things that people do not tell you about adoption that I wish I had known, way back when…but it still would not have turned me against adding to my family through our domestic and international adoption.  I just believe that I would have been better prepared.

You will automatically love this child.

I wish this were true but there are times when that connection is just not there and love is a CHOICE and not a FEELING.  There are times when adoptive mamas go through post-adoption depression just like mamas who give birth can struggle with postpartum depression.  It is tough.  If you feel like you are struggling or wanting to sleep all the time.  Maybe your emotions are all over the place or you are struggling with loving this child.  Please, seek help.  There is no shame in talking to a doctor or a therapist.  There is no shame if you need medication to get through this emotional hump.  You are still a good mama.  Relax.  Breathe.  Trust the Lord.  Ask for help.

It will be an easy transition into your family.

Any adoptive parent will tell you that this is a lie lie lie.  I will say that it was much easier with Little Man than it was with Gigi and Catfish.  There is a honeymoon period.  It can last for days (or hours) or months.  When it is over, it is over….that is when real bonding begins.

You have to be rich to adopt.

With the help of friends, family, yard sales, craft shows, grants….you can adopt.  You do not have to be rich.  In the case of foster care adoption, there is no cost to adopt a child from the foster system and the need is great!

You will love this child(ren) differently because this child “did not come from your body.

Again, it does not take birthing a baby to be a mom.  It takes the next lifetime to be a mom.  I love ALL of my kids DIFFERENTLY.  It is a fact that I do not love them the same.  Yet, I do not love one more than another.  I just love them differently whether they are grown under the heart or in it.

It is easy to adopt

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…..uhm….no.  International, domestic, private, family, foster care….adoption is A LOT of hard work.  A lot of dedication, a lot of paperwork, a lot of tears, and a lot of emotions.  Those who tell you differently are on medication.

All children in foster care have some kind of physical, mental or emotional handicap; that’s why they are classified as “special needs.”

Special needs can include several different types of kids.  Children who are of a different race are special needs.  Children over 3 are special needs.  Sibling groups are special needs.  Boys can be considered special needs just because they are boys.  There can be mental or physical needs, as well….but my son, adopted at the age of 4 was special needs because he was black, a boy, and over the age of 2.  He is perfectly fine.  My other 2 children are considered special needs because they are a sibling group.  There are additional needs from those 2 kids, but in far, they are just fine.

Natural parents do not care about the babies they surrender to adoption

My son’s mother loves him.  My children’s mother loves them.  They love in their own way.  They were relinquished for different reasons.  Both mom’s wanted a better life for their children.

The infant does not experience her separation from her mother

There are implicit memories (from birth to 3) and explicit memories (from 3 on).  Whether a child can verbalize or physically remember or not, they will always have those memories.  That loss and grief will always be there.  Regardless of age.

The adoptive family will be the only family the adoptive child will know

Uhm, again…no….These kids will always wonder where they came from and what their story was.  Do all you can to find out for their benefit…even the hard stuff.

Your identity is tied to the adoptive family and not your past

An adoptive child’s identity is founded on their heritage and their past.  They adapt and learn new ways, but their past is a huge part of who they are.

Adoptive families make up for a child’s loss

Again, that loss and grief will always be present.  It should be talked about and openness needs to be encouraged.  A child should never be afraid to talk to a parent about their hurts, fears, and confusion.  It does not mean they do not love you.  They just want to know.

The adoptive child never thinks about their biological family

Yes, they do…all the time.  They just very well may be afraid to verbalize for fear of hurting their adoptive parents.

You should sugarcoat the truth to make it easier on the adopted child

Nope.  This information should be sought after if you can.  It should be delivered in 100% truth as the child can understand and their complete past, what you know, should be completely told to a child by the age of 12.

Adoption damages a child

I don’t believe it does.  My children, though here for different circumstances by their biological families, know they are loved and they are safe.  They also know that their families loved them the only way that they could.

Adoption means waiting years for a child

I was waiting for a year for 2 of my children.  It took 2 years for my other child.  It all depends on what you are open to.  The more open you are to a child of God, the sooner it could be a reality.  If you are tied down to a newborn, blonde hair, blue-eyed little girl…your wait time will be longer.

Children must be placed with same-race families in order to thrive

We are a trans-racial family.  Our family tries to keep his heritage alive by listening to music, reading books, having pictures, things from his country.  Also, we try to get together with fellow adoptive families from Ethiopia.  We do the best we can knowing full well that we can never replace a first-hand experience he would have had had he stayed with his biological family.

Single people or people over 40 cannot adopt

Not true and not true 🙂  Age does not matter.  I say if the Lord is calling you…be obedient.  You won’t be sorry.

James 1:27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Matthew 18:5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask and I will address them.

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