Welcoming our dynamic duo – the joy of foster parenting teenagers

About this time two years ago, my husband and I decided to move forward with something that had been weighing on our hearts for many years—to welcome children into our home and hearts through foster parenting.

Our adult daughters were settled and married; both have children of their own and while we are not “young,” we believed we had much to offer a child.

As we went through the education and certification process, it became clear to us what type of child would be a good fit for our family. Because we had daughters, we thought it would be less likely for us to compare them to boys, so boys it would be! Then, because of our age, we thought teenagers would be a better fit. Lastly, if there was a sibling group of brothers, that would be perfect!

Many of our friends thought we had lost our minds or were experiencing a mid-life crisis; others considered our plan a wonderful thought, but were we sure? Honestly, we were never more sure of anything in our lives! Our extended family was nothing but supportive. While some were surprised, they were always supportive.

What I really want for Mother’s Day

Dear Daughters,

Each year I love the Mother’s Day gifts, silly songs and the social media “shout outs.” I really do love them and if you want to continue doing those things, I will greatly appreciate it. However, this year I want you to know what I really want for Mother’s Day.

I want you to fully embrace that you are a person of value.

You may have experienced difficult circumstances or done things you regret, but none of those decreases your worth. What happens to you and what others say about you are not the things that define you.

During the times you experience rejection and loneliness, please remember that those times will pass. Do not perceive your value based on likes on your selfies or who sits at your lunch table. Don’t ever forget that you are so much more than what people see on the surface, so never let anyone make you feel as if you aren’t good enough. You are more than good enough.

Lamentation on a changing field: When crises call, honesty and objectivity rule

William Swanger, MA, APR, senior vice president of Diakon’s Office of Corporate Communications & Public Relations, offers a blog post about his particular—and sometimes confusing—field.

I am proud of the field in which I work (and about which I teach part-time).

It’s called public relations.

And, yes, I am aware of our reputation for “spin” and for always painting things in the best light.

I would argue that’s not true public relations.

Perhaps it would help if we adopted the term some researchers use for analyzing the field: relationship management.

Get the distinction?

I raised needed funds … even before getting to the office

This morning, as I checked my email and chewed on my breakfast burrito, I contemplated how I had already supported Diakon Adoption & Foster Care twice today.

And it was easy and fit right in with my morning routine.

That routine is simple and probably very much like yours. The best mornings are the ones I’m the first to wake up. This gives me a chance to make a cup of coffee and collect my thoughts before the day begins as I peruse my favorite websites for the morning news.

It doesn’t take long, however, for my six-year-old ball of energy to wake and come into the home-office clutching his favorite blanket and asking for breakfast.

Then it’s time to pack lunches, shower, get dressed and find my son’s missing shoe while convincing him that yes, indeed, he has to go to school today.

Moms and teen daughters – she said/she said

I am the mother of three daughters ranging from mid-teens to early 20s.

These teenage years have been bumpy, with those bumps actually feeling like mountains some days. Through the years, I have read many articles about how strained mother/daughter relationships can sometimes be and I vowed to make connecting with my girls a priority.

I will admit, however, I have not always done a great job because of living in the extremes of “super-strict mom” and “fun permissible best friend mom”!

In the end, I have discovered it’s about balance.

And listening.

So I tried a little she said/she said with my 17-year old, daughter. Here’s how it went:

GIVING BACK—Two hearts, two hands and four paws

NOTE: Since 2006, Jeanne Doney and her therapy dog, Bentley, have volunteered at Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown/The Ravenwood Campus. Together, the duo offers residents a special relationship that only two hearts, two hands and four paws can give.

Jeanne Doney shares her experience:

You might say that my dog, Bentley, is giving back to the community—especially since the community saved him. You see, Bentley is a rescue dog. He was once neglected, but now he not only receives an overabundance of love at home, but he is the center of attention on the Ravenwood campus of Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown most Friday mornings.

Although Fridays are my days off—I work as a State of Maryland office supervisor in behavioral health—I tell Bentley that we have to go to “work.”

Taking art to new heights

It is hard for me to remember a time that I didn’t love art.

In fact, I have been pencil sketching since I was a kid. Ironically enough, I used to draw pictures of airplanes. Little did I know that after college graduation, I would become a pilot—a profession that would take my sketching skills to new heights.

I flew for Pan American Airways. Traveling internationally for a living, I never left home without my sketchpad. It was my companion during layovers. Together, we ventured to some of the most stunning cities around the world. Sketching primarily with charcoal pencils, I captured the beauty of churches in Frankfort, the Opera House in Vienna, Ireland landscapes and street scenes in Warsaw, Africa and Tokyo.

image1(1)

Connecting with birth parents – five easy tips

Tim and I have been incredibly blessed to have a positive relationship with our son’s birth family.

In fact, the absolute best piece of advice we received in resource family training was to be friendly with birth parents. In some cases, this is probably incredibly tough to do. But in our case, a little bit has gone a long way.

I think it’s easy to see birth parents as the enemy in the foster care system. But regardless of whatever mistakes parents have made, they almost always still love their kids. It is tough to try to connect with them, but all outcomes of success include benefit for the child, so it’s worth it!

Here are a few simple ideas to break the ice and extend an olive branch to birth parents: