While Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are now past us, this guest column reminds us about how we should celebrate—and wisely use—our time with (and as) both parents and children.
It’s as if a mirror is being held up.
That’s how I often describe the early days of having our foster daughter. Similar to when you invite a guest to, well, anything—you become hyper-aware of how things look through their eyes (if you’re of the pious persuasion, try taking a friend to church—you’ll see what I mean).
Earlier this month, 60 young adults ages 18 to 24 traveled to Washington, D.C., for the 2015 Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Experience. It was a wonderful event that brought together young people with personal experience in the foster care system with their congressional representative for a chance to learn from one another.
For two days, they studied issues trending in the foster care world before meeting with their congressman and getting to work. It was an empowering experience for these young adults, and one I was thrilled in which to participate.
Having been in foster care myself for six years, I was there to share my experience with these younger “brothers and sisters” and let them know there are many organizations and foster care alumni ready to lend a hand.
The plan. We all have one. This idea in our head about how our life is going to be. My plan was wonderful. I was going to marry the man of my dreams. We were going to get pregnant soon after with our first child and then every two years or so after that we would add another little person to our family until we felt complete. Perfection right? But, you see, that was Monica’s plan, not God’s plan.
It took me until about our fourth miscarriage to realize my “plan” wasn’t going to happen. So what do we do now? We want to be parents. The fertility specialist can’t figure my strange body out! Now what? Adopt? At this moment I just needed someone to call me Mommy. And adoption felt so natural to me because it was something I always dreamed of doing later in life.
While the holidays are merry for many, children within the child welfare system may not feel quite the same way. In fact, some may feel acute grief and loss.
Many of the images we see during the holiday season are of family, friends and being home. Imagine not being able to get home to your family and friends? Children within the child welfare system typically face circumstances outside their control, circumstances that separate them from family, friends and home.
Every few months we hold photo contests for our Diakon staff members. Originally, we launched a contest to obtain content for our 27 Diakon Facebook pages, but the process has evolved into a fun way of bringing staff together with one another and the people they serve.
Our last employee Facebook photo contest was themed as the “fall selfie” edition. We had so many terrific entries from a multitude of Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries programs and Diakon Senior Living campuses that we wanted to share some of them here.
It’s Friday—so how about doing something healthy this weekend and enjoying what the season has to offer?
For example, take time to re-energize with family or friends. When we are too busy and distracted, it can be difficult to make good choices particularly concerning our health. I think our children—and ourselves as adults—often participate in so many activities that we’re all pressed for time. So it’s much easier to grab fast-food or a snack on the go instead of sitting down to a family meal or something homemade.
Those quick “grab & go” options are convenient and time-saving, but we miss out on valuable opportunities not only to teach our children about healthy eating and meal planning, but also to spend quality time together enjoying one another’s company.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
— Kahlil Gibran
Blessed are the families who care for children whose parents are unable to rear them. My husband and I have a deep appreciation for all those who find homes for children who need them.
But the organization that puts parents and children together needs funds to perform this grand task. The parents who lovingly welcome these children need funds to support the healthy growth of these children. We are dedicated to helping raise some of that financial support and one of those ways is through a delicious fundraiser called Dining with Diakon.
It was a dark and stormy night…
While this may be one of the most clichéd first lines in literature, it appropriately describes the start of the 22nd annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference.
The hot July night before the conference began, a quick but powerful storm ripped through Lancaster County, leaving must of the region without power including the Lancaster Host Resort & Conference Center, home to the conference. In addition to power, water usage and air conditioning were lost. It was a very long night.
A less-hardy group may have packed it in, but certainly not all of the individuals at the conference—who are dedicated to bringing together waiting children with loving adoptive and foster families. Understanding that coming together was more important than everyday amenities, conference attendees, staff and hotel employees never lost faith.
People remained in good spirits and weathered the conditions. Eventually, when electricity was restored, people were able to shower, and the conference center cooled down, the event got fully under way with the apt theme of “Finding Futures.”
With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching, have you ever considered what it’s like to be an adoptive or foster care mom?
Most children and families involved in foster care and adoption will agree the ride is not always a smooth one (though is any family’s?), but the destination—a permanent home for a child—makes the journey of utmost importance.
Nevertheless, unlike a pregnancy with a predetermined timeline (that baby is coming around nine months whether you are ready or not!), each placement is a unique experience involving the entire family—an experience those who have not fostered or adopted a child or youth may not understand.
You’ve probably seen those commercials on television about AdoptPAKids and, at the end, a reference to Pennsylvania’s Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network—or SWAN.
Since 2000, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries and Family Design Resources (FDR) have partnered to administer services to children in Pennsylvania’s child-welfare system under a contract with the Commonwealth. SWAN was created to eliminate barriers that prevent children from finding permanent homes.
And so it’s not just about adoption.