Whenever the Tim McGraw song “Humble and Kind” plays on the radio, I can feel our 8-year-old roll his eyes as I remind him that these lyrics are something I hope he takes to heart:
“Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you / When you get where you’re going, don’t forget to turn back around / And help the next one in line. / Always stay humble and kind.”
It’s important to us that Cayden understands that we have been incredibly blessed to have had so many people help us in our journey to become a family.
• There were the dedicated, caring social workers who made sure to keep checking on his welfare the first year of his life. These people work tirelessly to try to help birthparents successfully parent and then do the difficult work to place the children with foster parents, if necessary, who will make sure these vulnerable children are safe and healthy.
Working in the field of adoption and foster care for 42 years, Marcia Moll is a Diakon Adoption & Foster Care social worker with a master’s degree in early childhood development. As the mother of two grown adoptive children, she understands firsthand how unconditional love for a child can transform a family. Below, she discusses a new Diakon foster care program, designed to touch the lives of children with special medical needs throughout eastern and central Pennsylvania.
Medically fragile foster care can change lives!
A little girl was hospitalized for six months in a children’s hospital waiting for an organ transplant. She spent most of her time being cared for by the hospital staff because her birth family was not involved. The county came to us at Diakon Adoption & Foster Care and asked if we had a family who would be a foster family until her transplant. A family stepped forward.
They had adopted a child in the past and, unfortunately, that child had passed away. This family understood that a child should live in a family environment instead of a hospital setting.
In this post, Lydia Carfagno, an adoptive parent, shares her difficult two-year journey that led to one of the greatest joys of her life—motherhood. She adopted her now-4-year-old son, Trevor, through Diakon Adoption & Foster Care’s legal-risk (foster-to-adopt) program. Legal-risk placements involve children and youths who are in the custody of a county’s children and youth services. Children are placed in foster homes with the intent of reuniting them with their birth families; however, if that does not occur, the foster family often seeks to adopt the child or youth.
As I was growing up, my mother worked and volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center. As a small child, I witnessed my mother counseling women and providing them with the necessary resources to maintain their pregnancy. When I was young, I would tell my mother that I wanted to grow up and take care of babies that did not have mommies and open my own orphanage. I remember frequently checking our front door to see if someone left me a baby to care for!
Fast forward: I grew up and obtained a college degree in recreational therapy. As a therapist, I worked in various pediatric hospitals. Throughout my work experience, I witnessed firsthand many children suffering from neglect, abuse and trauma. Each of these children made my desire to adopt grow even stronger; however I knew I was not currently in the position to do that.
Upon marrying, adoption was something we always said we would do “one day.” We struggled to get pregnant and even experienced a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. The topic of adoption that was once on the back burner quickly became a burning desire in my heart.
It was something I believed had to happen immediately. Because of my experience in the health-care field, I was aware of “foster-to-adopt” type programs and I quickly began researching agencies.
This blog shares the story of how Diakon Adoption & Foster Care staff members went the extra mile to help adoptees participate in Girls on the Run®, a non-profit program that inspires girls to recognize their inner strengths and celebrate what makes them unique.
As an affiliate council of Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries, Girls on the Run – Lehigh Valley delivers sessions involving 10 weeks of dynamic discussions, activities and running games for girls in third through fifth grades, with each season concluding with a celebratory 5K event, completed by participants and “running buddies.”
JoAnn Carter, mother of two adoptive girls (Daysia 11, Jada 9)
My interest in Girls on the Run began when my girls brought home a flyer from Parkway Manor elementary school announcing the program. I thought it would get them off the couch and give them a well-rounded opportunity that teaches them confidence. I also thought it would be great to have the girls be part of a running team.
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.
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.
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.
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:
As a career banker, I’ve spent the last 25 years looking for ways to manage and minimize risk. So you can imagine that when my husband and I were looking for the best options for us to become parents, the very last thing I wanted to hear about was something called “Legal-Risk Placement.”
After all, it has the word risk right in the name and, as a manager, I like to be in control. So instead, I set about finding the “safest” and easiest way for us to become parents. That approach led us through a three-year process to adopt a little girl from China. Not only did we lose much of our savings in the pursuit, we also lost the most precious thing of all—time.
That year, 2008, was a difficult year. We learned it was unlikely the China adoption program would move forward and both of the companies for which my husband and I worked were in crisis, eventually being sold. And that same year, five of my cousins had babies. It was a wonderful gift to have these beautiful children in my life … and yet also painful.
At times, that question—continually and casually posed by family and friends—threatened to overwhelm me. If I had been pregnant with another child, it would have been celebrated. Instead, the prospect of adding to our family through adoption from foster care was met with raised eyebrows and concern.
Our biological daughter, Amelia, was 4 years old when we began the foster-to-adopt process. There were so many fears surrounding the uncertain world of foster care. In the hopes of offering love and safety to another child, would we destroy our own child’s sense of security?
For some families, the fear that their own biological children might be hurt physically or emotionally is enough to make them steer clear of foster care altogether.
As a parent, you want to protect your own children from the harm and hurts of this world. But what if we are called to something greater?