I love Black Friday shopping. The crowds don’t bother me and as my children get older the more expensive the list of requested gifts gets. Buying stuffed animals and Barbie dolls won’t suffice anymore, so Black Friday and Cyber Monday have helped me save quite a bit of money shopping for three teenagers!
After making my way through the shoe and electronics departments, I still enjoy browsing the board-game aisle because on the snowed-in days of winter and lazy days of summer, our family enjoys playing cards and games even as the kids have gotten older.
I was looking at Black Friday game sales, reminiscing about the days of Chutes and Ladders when it dawned on me that many of these children’s games also apply to situations we encounter throughout our lives. Chutes and Ladders teaches a great lesson about maneuvering the ups and downs we encounter throughout life. Just when we think we have lost it all, for example, we shoot to the top again!
When he was just slightly more than 4 months old, my son, Carson Riche, left his birth country of Korea and his foster parents there to begin life anew with us—his adoptive family in the United States.
We are delighted to share this question-and-answer blog post with Diakon Adoption & Foster Care Case Manager Crystal Wanamaker about the recent adoptions of a large sibling group:
When did you meet the children?
I met Jayden, Ricardo Jr., and Mya the day they were referred to our agency, which was July 23, 2010. I met Ruby on Jan. 17, 2012. She was placed with her siblings two days after she was born. Jayden and Ricardo Jr. are 6-year-old twins, Mya is 5 years old and Ruby is 3 years old. The boys were adopted by the Rivera family, the girls by the Saylor family.
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.
When you prepare a child for permanency, you come into contact with a lot of people—birth parents, foster parents, caseworkers, mental health providers, educational staff, and so on. It is a lot for a child to have so many people involved in this process. Certainly it can be hard to keep up with all of it and still manage to be a kid. There is no normalcy about the children’s or youths’ lives at this point.
Let me tell you about just one example, condensing the details considerably.
Youth sports continue to be of interest to blogs and media, often with mentions of “helicopter” parents, disrespectful players and belligerent coaches.
So what, you may wonder, can parents do to make the experience a positive one for their children? Jeremias Garcia, who oversees the Center Point Day Program at the Diakon Wilderness Center near Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, not only has extensive experience working with young people of all backgrounds, but also has coached various ages and levels of boys and girls basketball and girls soccer.
We asked him to share his experiences and advice:
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.
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.
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.