Inclusion and Exclusion – Vacation and Foster Kids

When you agree to take foster kids into your home, you ought to be agreeing to make them a part of your family. For better or for worse, they are your kids. Tomorrow they might go home or they might go to a treament facility or to a new foster home.

Today, they are your kids.

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Wherever you take your kids, you take your foster kids. Going to the movies? Take your foster kids. Going to the mall? Take your foster kids. Going camping? Take your foster kids. Going to Disney World? TAKE YOUR FOSTER KIDS.

Many of the teens in foster care have never experienced things like vacation. They are excluded from family activities like these for a variety of reasons. A variety of reasons I don’t understand.

While I fully support the idea of using respite to have breathing time for kids and foster parents alike, I do not support the idea of using respite to exclude kids from family activities. Foster kids deserve inclusion in as many things as possible. If an activity is one that your foster kid can’t handle, you ought to seriously evaluate whether it is an activity your family ought to participate in.

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One of my biological sons has severe ADHD. There are things he can’t handle. If we want to participate in these things, we have to adapt. Neither Daddy or I have any qualms about skipping something that might be a difficult environment for Man #1.

When I make the choice to parent children from hard places, I’m making the choice to adapt my life so that they can be a part of everything we do. If I’m not willing to do that, maybe I should seriously consider my decision to foster at all.

We were blessed this weekend to camp with three families who also have a ton of kids. One of those families is fostering a child. There was never any doubt that he would be camping with us. There was never a moment when he wasn’t entirely included. He is one of their kids, for better or for worse, no matter what. If that changes, they will mourn the loss of him. If it doesn’t, he’ll gain their last name. But in the meantime, he is their child and he goes where they go.

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Kids from hard places are excluded from so many things. Please don’t let family vacations be one of those things!

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Everyone Deserves a Mama

Every year, 27,000 teenagers will “age out” of foster care. For most, that means being tossed into the world without the skills or support necessary to lead successful lives.

This statistic is frightening, but it is also rather sterile. I can’t wrap my mind around 27 thousand people. I can’t humanize a statistic like this one. I can read articles like this one (For Teens in Foster Care, Adoption is a Lifeline) and I intellectually understand the need. But I don’t emotionally connect.

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Jakial, Ra’Neisha, Unique, Ky’Anndra

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Miracle, Tierracole, Azenae

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Emerald and Jade

Video of Emerald and Jade

These beautiful girls deserve more than what they have. They deserve a mom who loves them. Late night talks about boys and make-up and the future should be a regular part of their lives. Someone ought to drive them to college orientation and help them decorate their new dorm rooms. When they don’t remember how to do their laundry, they should be able to text their mama. When Thanksgiving break comes at school, they should be HOME, baking and laughing with their family. When their hearts are broken, someone should cry with them. When they celebrate, someone should cheer with them. When a sweet boy proposes to one of these girls, there should be giddy phone calls and visits to bridal shops. When she tries on her first wedding gown, there should be a woman she calls “Mom”, silently crying in the corner, overwhelmed by the beauty of her sweet girl. When that first pregnancy test has two lines, there should be joy, not fear and sadness. As the contractions worsen, a mama should be holding the hand of these young women, welcoming grandchildren into the world.

If someone doesn’t see these things when they view the pictures of these girls, the future isn’t a beautiful journey. It is a dark and scary place. There will be no one to call as they learn to be adults. There will be no one to share the joyful times and no one to cry with through the pain of growing up. Adulthood without a mom is a bleak place.

Let’s stop seeing these beautiful teenagers as damaged and intimidating. Let’s remember what it was to be a teenager and ask ourselves what we would have done without our supports, without guidance.

The Lord has been so gracious to me. He has loved me when I was difficult to love. He has shown me what it is to be a daughter of the King. When I didn’t have a mama, He gave me lots of mamas. But, my heart aches because I didn’t have one mama. My very own go-to lady who loved me and could guide me. I can no longer look at the spare bedroom and empty seats around my table, and justify the reasons why these ladies will enter the world without a MOM.

Who is the Lord laying on your heart? What are your fears? What keeps you from saying YES?