Our Number One Problem with Writing About Adoption and Foster Care

qualls family selfie 2

My friend and writing partner, Jennifer, sent me an email last week saying life with her two foster children is quite difficult and she doesn’t have much time (if any) for writing blog posts.

I understand because frankly, these last few weeks since we took a giant and surprising leap into foster care (not to mention Russ being in Kenya) I’ve spent far less time writing (or sleeping) myself.

I love writing about adoption and foster care. Jennifer loves writing about adoption and foster care.

The question is, how do we write about adoption and foster care while actually parenting children with significant needs who were adopted or are in foster care?

Before launching Thankful Moms, Jennifer and I did a lot of research about how to blog successfully – we know the formulas and strategies – we know what it takes.

You know what else? We also know what our families need.

Sometimes what it takes to be a successful blogger and what it takes to be a great adoptive/foster mom are mutually exclusive (for us – other women are able to manage more than we can).

So we’ve decided to just be ourselves.

We’re going to be the best wives and moms we can be, loving the families God has given us, and we’re going to share our hearts and thoughts with you as much as we can.

That means some weeks we’ll post on a regular schedule, with snappy titles on our posts, great photos, and we may even send our newsletter. Other weeks you may not hear from us at all.

We hope you’ll stick with us and share your hearts too.

Speaking of foster care, Zoe, my foster daughter, asked me to help her find the sequel to A Child Called It at the library. She was captivated by the autobiographical book and wanted to read the next one in the series.

That request turned into a search for any and all books written by former foster kids (for both of us) and foster moms (for me). Here are some of the books we’ve been reading. Have you read any of them? What would you recommend?

[edit: I’ve added a number of your recommendations to our adoption/foster care resources page.]

[warning: As you can imagine, some of these books are very hard to read and have graphic descriptions of abuse.]

[This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]

with hope and gratitude,

Lisa – and Jennifer too

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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.

30 Comments

  1. Nicole
    July 5, 2016

    Hooray! Your posts are showing up in my blog feed.

    Thanks for sharing your blogging thoughts. A friend recently saw my husband and told him she was worried about me because I haven’t blogged for a long while. Like you two, I think blogging only works when it’s consistent with loving my family well. When a blog post comes together (for me) it actually helps me love my family better. That hasn’t been my recent reality. So, there haven’t been any posts.

    Your foster care book list is great! I’ve also learned from: “Etched in Sand” by Regina Calcaterra and “A Walk to Beautiful” by Jimmy Wayne.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      I’ll look for both of those books, Nicole. Thanks! I love writing, and wish I could spend so much more time doing it, but when I find myself ignoring my kids so I can write just a little more, or format, or edit, or attempt to do something techy, then I know I need to set it aside for a little while. If only I could hire an assistant!

      Reply
  2. Beverly Regier
    July 5, 2016

    Etched in Sand, by Regina Calcaterra. The author is active in advocacy for a better foster care system. I heard her speak at a local college where her book was the college read for the year.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      I’ve seen that title, Beverly. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Reply
  3. Rebecca
    July 5, 2016

    I am so glad you wrote this post! I don’t blog, but I have a job that I consider a calling and a gift for me (much like your blog!). I look at people who do the same work and don’t parent or don’t parent preschoolers, and it’s tempting to think because I can’t do it like others do it, that I can’t do it successfully at all. I love your conclusion that you are going to do what your families need and blog the best you can recognizing you won’t be strictly adhering to the formulas.
    Love your blog!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Rebecca. We’re going to do it the best we can – I love blogging!

      Reply
  4. Shar McMinn
    July 5, 2016

    Yes! Our families come first! A fine balancing act is required. Two very good and inspiration books about thriving adults who were in foster care or were adopted are: I Beat The Odds by Michael Oher of Blindside fame. And Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince the worlds first black international prima ballerina. Both for high school and above or mature middle school

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      Thanks for the recommendations, Shar!

      Reply
  5. Becky
    July 5, 2016

    I don’t read many blogs anymore, but I’ve known Jennifer since our Liberian adoption days and value people who do hard things and are honest about the blessings and struggles of life. I appreciate your blog even more knowing that it’s not always going to be nice, neat, and predictable because you’re distracted by even bigger things.

    Thanks for the book recommendations! I checked them all out on Goodreads and added them to my list.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      It’s nice to meet you, Becky. Any friend of Jennifer’s is a friend of mine. I hope you enjoy the books too.

      Reply
  6. Amanda
    July 5, 2016

    A single square picture- Cary Robinson (about adoption)

    find me- Rosie o Donnell- half autobiography half mysteries as I recall. Details her own life as an adoptive mother while working at an adoption agency.

    A man named Dave- Dave peltzer
    Not as well written as a child called it or the lost boy but he discusses his feelings about becoming a parent.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      Thank you for the recommendations, Amanda. I will add them to my list!

      Reply
  7. Samantha Brandon
    July 5, 2016

    That is why I gave up blogging too. Also, the confidential nature really made it hard for me to know what to talk about.

    Although not autobiographical, have you seen the Language of Flowers? It was beautiful in a very wrecking way.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      I’m going to look for that book, it sounds good. I don’t plan to give up on blogging, I just need to be gentle with myself when I can’t keep up the pace I set for myself. It’s the cheapest therapy I know!

      Reply
  8. Jenny
    July 5, 2016

    I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. It’s actually what I come to your blog for, however often that can be. I found your little space on the web about 4-5 years ago when my journey with a child from “hard places” was becoming overwhelming and isolating. Even though we’ve never met, I consider you a friend. You know the ones you can let time past and reconnect and feel like you just picked up where you left off 🙂 So thank you for being an instrument of encouragement. It really makes a difference in my life. And you and your family have often been, and will continue to be, in my prayers.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      Jenny, thank you for your prayers, for reading and commenting, and sharing my life. Maybe one day we’ll get to meet.

      Reply
  9. Natalie
    July 5, 2016

    So much yes! I understand completely. As I launched myself into the blogging world I felt overwhelmed by all the “shoulds.” I came to the realization that the only “should” I absolutely must complete is mothering my children to the best of my ability. I am a mom who writes. Not a writer who moms!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      Great way to put it, Natalie. It’s tough when we want to do everything well, but I always have to come back to what God has placed right in front of me. Seasons change and I know there will be more time for writing again, maybe even when school starts, but this summer – maybe not!

      Reply
  10. Joy Headrick
    July 5, 2016

    I understand. Can’t even get on facebook and I do not have foster children. I do however get to be at Jennifer’s home as i am her Mom in law and I see all the work, love, effort, patience and other stuff that goes into being a foster mom. It is a continual 24 hour undertaking and I see too how much it takes out of all the family, the foster Dad and the other children. Am so amazed at their patience and love toward those little ones God has placed in their home. Not easy, but so rewarding (most of the time). So I will read when you put a blog on and keep on praying. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Joy Headrick
    July 5, 2016

    I wanted to add, that I also get to see some of the rewards. ie: yesterday at a family gathering at Greg and Jen’s home, where they had just picked up their two little foster children. The 2 year old was in a “mommy hold me” mood and when jJen picked her up for the upteenth time (and she is heavy), the little girl began to hold Jen’s face and kiss her and love on her and it was a very sweet moment. I knew at that moment , it was right!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      That is a precious story, Joy. Thanks so much for sharing it.

      Reply
  12. Lizzie
    July 5, 2016

    It’s not strictly what you are looking for, but Torey Haydon has written some great books about working with children with special educational needs, some of whom are from hard places. I found them very helpful and powerful.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 5, 2016

      Thanks Lizzie!

      Reply
  13. Kate
    July 6, 2016

    Cathy Glass and Casey Watson write books about their experiences as foster mums. They are less autobiographical but they tell the stories of the children really well and we’ve found they have given some valuable insight into the challenges foster parents face in parenting within the foster care system. Sometimes being able to read the other side (for a foster child) can help to explain things they may not be able to understand in their own situation…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 6, 2016

      Thanks, Kate. I’ll look for those.

      Reply
  14. Beth
    July 7, 2016

    Thanks for the reading suggestions. Balancing foster care and adoption with every day family obligations is hard for sure and every day brings new challenges even years into this journey. We are bringing our brood up to settle our daughter in at UI for the upcoming school year. Being on the road with a bunch of littles is a welcome break from the chaos of fostering.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 7, 2016

      You’ll be in my neighborhood! Let me know when you’ll be here, Beth – email me lisa@thankfulmoms.com

      Reply
      1. Beth
        July 9, 2016

        Sent you an email. 🙂

        Reply
  15. Karen Kennelly
    July 8, 2016

    I also love books by Cathy Glass. She’s a foster parent (call them carers) in the UK. Torey Hayden is another really good one as well as Mary MacCracken. Mary is a teacher, not foster parent, but may still find good resources.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 9, 2016

      Thank you, Karen!

      Reply

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