A Must Read: Another Perspective on Birth Families and Foster Care

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It’s Friday and we’re getting ready for Dimples’ visit.  Dimples and her counselor should arrive just before dinner, as long as the weather stays nice. Snow on the roads makes all the difference. My plan for today is a little homeschooling, a lot of grocery shopping, and a little cleaning tossed into the mix. And prayer – lots of prayer.

Today is also Hannah’s birthday; I wish we could celebrate with her. She is exactly where the Lord has called her to be, but I sure do miss her. Today, she will make her patients’ lives better, and that helps me bear the distance. 

Last week I read something that I loved so much, I need to share it with all of you. Please take a moment to read this post from Tona Ottinger – it is filled with grace and love.

Another Perspective on Birth Families and Foster Care

A week from Saturday, March 15th, is the Spokane Orphan Summit. There are some great speakers including Deborah Gray and Johnston Moore; you don’t want to miss them. I’ll be giving two workshops. Together with my friend, Jodie Howerton, I’ll be speaking about adopting and parenting kids who are living with HIV. The second is about  keeping faith and holding on through your adoption/fostercare journey.

If you live anywhere near Spokane, WA, come join us for a great day of encouragement!

Have a great weekend, friends. I’ll be sure to get some pictures of my crew to share next week.

Lisa

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. Luann Yarrow Doman
    March 7, 2014

    Oh I wish I could hear you speak! I have a stack of library books about living with HIV to prepare us for our upcoming adoption, but but I feel like a face-to-face with someone like you would be so much more beneficial. Do you have any specific books you recommend on the subject?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 7, 2014

      Luann, I would be happy to chat with you about HIV. I don't know of any good books for parents, although there may be something out there. You can also join a FB group of families with HIV+ kids, although you may have to have your child home to join – I'm not sure. Send me an email lisa@onethankfulmom.com

      Reply
  2. Mary F
    March 7, 2014

    Praying for your weekend, Lisa. I can feel my own anxiety over it for you, and am praying for wisdom, patience, steadfast and supernatural love. I pray this weekend is a good step for the family, and that shows contentment with "real life" as the foundation for the fun days.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 7, 2014

      Mary, thank you for your prayers. I think we're going to have more "real life" than we expected and that will ultimately be a good thing.

      Reply
  3. Joelle
    March 7, 2014

    Good reads (I read the other posts Tona linked too). I've been pondering Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well lately. He extended love and life but He also spoke truth and didn't shy away from the realities of her life. I find it difficult to be both sides of love so I tend to focus on the compassionate side of love at the expense of the clarity of hard truth. Definitely need Jesus to help me walk thru the complexities of relationships, attitudes, and viewpoints.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 7, 2014

      Me too – more of Jesus, because relationship are complex.

      Reply
  4. Sami
    March 7, 2014

    I hate to say I had a hard time with this article. Children in America don't get removed because their parents just have different ideas about parenting. It's not a cry-it-out vs. co-sleeping debate. She says, "We need to lay down racial prejudices that get in the way of seeing birth families culture and different ways of living as something that can be celebrated rather than judged. Not all cultures parent the way white evangelical parents do and that does not mean they don’t want or love their kids. (Feels good to finally say that)" Foster parents and the state are not being racist when they say it's not good for a kid to be raised in a drug abusing, gang violence "culture." Maybe I didn't understand her point; I feel confused. As foster parents we seek to speak kindly and graciously about our FD's parents. We pray for them (though we have never met them, by their choice). But I'm not going to glorify or dismiss the "culture" that did so very much damage to a precious baby.

    I wish the system would be focused on stopping the cycle and putting what is best for the child (the one with the least voice in the whole system) first.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 7, 2014

      Sami, I really appreciate hearing from you. I'm not a fostermother, so I don't have the wisdom you have on this. I think I've seen situations where things have been manipulated to put the birthfamily in a worse light than they should have been. What they most needed was help and mentoring. My friends who are fostermothers have had wonderful (and complicated) relationships with birthfamily and in those instances things have gone very well. But absolutely, there are terrible situations that bring harm to children and when that happens, loving foster families are a wonderful gift to the children.

      Reply
      1. Sami
        March 7, 2014

        Thank you for your gracious reply. I feel like I "know" you from reading your blog for years and I knew you wouldn't take my comment to be confrontational (which is why I didn't post on the article itself–I don't want to start a fight). You are always open, honest, and gracious!

        I'm sure some foster parents might be guilty of manipulation and unloving attitudes, but I have to say I don't see it. In fact, I am a part of a large support group for foster parents and when a bio parent succeeds, there are tears of rejoicing, offers for meals or furniture. From the many foster parents I have contact with, I don't know any of them that rejoice in a bio parent's failure.

        I do have an addict in my family that I love wholeheartedly and unconditionally. I think that helps me feel compassion for birth families.

        Foster families have made their hearts, their lives, and their very families a human shield of protection for children. Fierce arrows come flying from all directions and we expect it. I would be grieved, though, to see it become trendy to criticize foster parents from within the church. When we turn to our Christian families, we should receive help and encouragement (and even loving, gentle encouragement to be gracious to birth parents if it's needed), but we shouldn't get an unexpected dagger of "you did not do enough" (this is more in comment to the blog cited in the article "Where the Church is Getting Foster Care All Wrong").

        I do hope your weekend goes well. I so appreciate your blog and always am encouraged by it. Your faithfulness to what God's called you to is a blessing for me to see. 🙂

        Reply
        1. Lisa Qualls
          March 7, 2014

          Thanks, Sami. I really appreciate hearing from you – there is so much to learn!

          Reply
        2. Emily
          March 9, 2014

          Sami, I loved Tona's article, and I also really appreciated your thoughts. How wonderful that you are in a community of such thoughtful and compassionate foster parents. I agree with you about the drug, gang violence etc culture being harmful for children/everyone. I also see Tona's point about not assuming that parenting differently from white evangelical parents is a bad thing. As a home visitor for low-income families, I saw a lot of parenting styles and home situations that at first shocked me and made me worry for the kids- in families I later came to deeply respect and admire and learn from. That's not to say that there were never situations that truly were harmful or dangerous- but I realized over time that some of the "red flags" I Thought I was seeing had more to do with the lifestyles being unfamiliar to me than actual negative parenting. It's easy to mix mix together things like drug/violence culture with other things which may not be bad at all, or may just have different strengths and weaknesses than what we're used to… And to make more negative assumptions of those families than is true.
          Anyways. Thanks for the food for thought, and for your care and work!

          Reply
        3. Acceptance with Joy
          March 13, 2014

          as a foster mom, I chime in to say that we work very hard to help the bio moms succeed. I can say it is so frustrating when they continue to hurt their children…. We have one birth mom living near us that did succeed!! We babysit for her, we take her kids to church, we invite them to eat with us, have family worship with us. I just spent last weekend at her house caring for her kids so she could go to a recovery celebration weekend. I have two foster children now. I'm praying earnestly that she will make the shift in her thinking…. her babies need her. I talk on the phone with her and we are here for her, we can't MAKE her stop using drugs, though.

          Reply
    2. Kayla
      March 8, 2014

      I took her point to mean that it is really not fair to say parents don't love their kids, even if their kids have been put in foster care. Most parents, even those who are doing what we would define as a really cruddy job, love their kids. It's a a combination of love, ability, education, community, resources, etc. that help struggling parents be successful. I think her words were a response that I have often heard about birth parents not loving their kids or not wanting their kids which I don't think is true of most birth parents. It may not fit with our definition of what love looks like or acts like but it is the best version of love that some parents are capable of.

      Reply
      1. Emily
        March 9, 2014

        That's what I got from it, as well.

        Reply
  5. DFNY
    March 7, 2014

    Praying everything goes well during Dimples' visit and beyond.

    Damaris

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 7, 2014

      Damaris, thank you for your prayers.

      Reply
  6. Theresa
    March 8, 2014

    I am wondering if in a future post you might share this video for us foster parents who read your blog. Especially for those who are just starting their journey and those that may adopt older kids with big hurts! http://vimeo.com/73172036 I saw this today and it broke me once again for the kids that are in our home. Specifically one who will be adopted soon!

    Reply
    1. Dianne
      March 13, 2014

      This video was outstanding!! We adopted a sibling group of 3 from an emergency foster care home. I just cannot stress how true to life this video is! So grateful for you, Theresa, posting it. Thank you!

      Reply
  7. Mary
    March 9, 2014

    As a foster mom turned adoptive mom, these articles really struck home for me. There is a wide gamut of reasons why a child comes into foster care, but I definitely agree that no matter what those reasons are, there is profound love from parent to child. Previously, I thought that foster care was all about a protective covering thrown over the child. Now, I am learning to see it instead of a weaving of my life into a place of brokenness. I love Timothy Keller's analogy of peace being the interweaving of many different people–what gives a fabric strength and beauty is when a lot of different threads are criss crossed all over each other. Being a foster parent and now an adoptive parent has made my "thread" go in places it wouldn't have gone before. I have made some places stronger because of that. But the biggest lesson in grace for me is seeing how those places have also given me their strength as well.
    That is what I got out of her article–that foster care needs to be less about throwing a big blanket over a hard and messy situation, but rather, slowly and humbly inserting our "thread" and saying–I want to be here with you and we will be here together and I'm not quite sure what that all means.

    Reply

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