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The Complicated, Beautiful Life of a Foster Mom

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
May 29, 2020 2:00 am

The Complicated, Beautiful Life of a Foster Mom

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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May 29, 2020 2:00 am

Jessie Gallaher describes the challenges and joys she experienced in adopting five siblings from foster care, and how she has grown in her faith and in her passion for supporting children in foster care.

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If the quarantine period is taken a toll on your marriage hope restored is here to help.

Focus on the Family is gradually reopening our hope restored marriage intensive's in Michigan in Missouri for couples in crisis were reopening in accordance with state recommendations for distancing and safety call Focus on the Family today to speak to a specialist who can answer your questions about our hope restored marriage intensive call one 800 a family that's one 800 a family plan, we first brought the kids home so many people told us just love on fan and time will heal it and I didn't believe that that was true, because that's not the same when you raise a child without any kind of trauma background you need structure you need consistency underneath some of those hard conversations to take place. You can't just live or you least not in that way.

You have to love through consistency and structure as well. That's Jesse Gallagher and she shares about complicated life as foster mom and adopted this is Focus on the Family John Fuller your host as president and Dr. Jim Daly Jim, I gotta say we do a lot of review program services when I'm really interested because as an adoptive dad. I know that a lot of things can go sideways quickly. We bring children into the home that haven't been with you previously and it's a real challenge. Sometimes they can be.

And I think that's one of the great reasons that we want to air this broadcast today. There's victories.

And then there sometimes defeats and that's the adventure of adoption whether Sue Foster or mastic adoption or international adoption were speaking to everybody and maybe you're thinking about it and that is something that warms my heart. I was that foster child and you know that that experience was not very good and I am desperate to beg Kajol Christian families to consider either foster adoption or at least entering the foster system to be a safe, loving home for these kids temporarily or to be a respite giver to give the care to the foster family or the adoptive family. Just do the laundry or do something to help them out. We can do this together as a community of believers. The numbers are not that big. When you look at the number of churches we have about 350,000 churches and in the United States more there in Canada and then we have about 400,000 in the foster system, about 100,000 that are looking for adoptive homes where the parental rights of been terminated that shape so that that's like one adoption for every three churches. I think that's manageable and think of the families of those churches will come around that one family working here about it today, and again I'm a tell you boldly. Our goal is to convince you that this is a call of God that you need to be engaged somehow. Kids need loving homes no better home as one social worker once told me there are no better homes for these kids in Christian homes.

We just need to step up will may is national foster care awareness month this one. The reasons were talking about that now in our guest has a hard for these foster children. She and her husband adopted five siblings out of foster care what John say that again five kids at once instant family and well the amazing challenging stories and afloat today I think they really are. Jesse it is great to have you done this wonderful work. This book many thorns yet still roses love the title subtitle being breaking the silence with our story of sibling group adoption. Now it's all roses right it is not all roses but I would say that when people want to look at things like adoption in context of only victories or failures right, you gotta be able to see where a victory is coming through a hardship and so one of the things that we learned very early on is that when things seem to be going more wrong than usual. Typically, a breakthrough is on the horizon.

And so even our first weekend with the kids at home. One of them fell apart had a very very violent meltdown and, in that it was able to show us that allow this.

Kids already thinking we might be trustworthy and willing to start pushing buttons and so is interesting that you slow down because people that really most parents, and most people are used to that. What these kids are saying is there been so many people in my life that when I push buttons they back away. It demonstrates they don't really care about me. And that's true in foster care.

I feel like these kiddos. They have already been hurt by someone in their past and in that scenario, you don't want to take a risk on trusting someone again and fearing that hurt. And so if you push those buttons up front and see if that person stays with you through your intentional worst then stick with you when you're giving your best and sometimes messed up and I have to see that to start when you and your husband have done such a great job with this.

That's why we want to draw to broadcast any family struggle in the space you've taken on the challenge you've adopted these five kids. That is huge. Most people are going why why did you do that that would be a rational response. I mean it's taking on a big burden. So let me ask that question that we hear from the listener screaming through the microphones right now. Why what motivated you to get involved. So when I was in elementary school I had a friend who is in foster care and we had a very close relationship and then just one day I came to school and she was gone and I was such a hardship for me and I was I was still in my home. This girl she lost her friends and the home she was and everything else attached to it and I still don't know where her life ended up taking her.

My husband also had a story in his youth of a child who deserved a better home situation and so we both separately knew that adoption would be in our story, but we didn't know exactly how it would play out. After getting married and my husband joined the Army got kinda gave us some basic guidance that we thought we were following but then a door would close here or something new would open here and it would shift around until we had finally landed on the sibling group of five and the flyer we saw resembled my husband's family to himself and he dropped his head and set on now. I think God wants us to take all five auto now see I see two didn't say honey, you need to keep praying right will be linked through the process knowingly wanted kids who otherwise were less likely to be place he wanted older kids in a sibling group because those are the ones that are typically forgotten.

Give the statistics on that it's heart wrenching online when you look at the kids who are over the age of eight. It completely plummets their their likeliness is practically nonexistent. It's almost like a miracle when they are taken and versus a baby coming up for adoption. It would be mind blowing. If that child wasn't selected right also think that you unit has been purposefully said to the social worker. I guess the caseworker were looking for this and they probably were like they don't get that a lot because they really saw problems with the older kids typically right. She was shocked for us and she was worried for us all at one time, and so they want to check to make sure that you're coming into it with a clear expectation and the expectation we had was you can't expect what's coming, you can't anticipated what you can know is that when you follow with God.

He's going to put steps in place for you and so whatever obstacles come there's going to be a way through. It may not always be what you would anticipate from a healthy home but there's going to be something to move through it and so for us. We started to feel the place that they are kids here who are susceptible to trafficking and to prostitution and to all kinds of scary things.

Drugs, alcohol abuse within foster care and we wanted to make sure that the kids that we have in our schools and in our communities and are in our neighborhoods better than that as Americans we can provide better for our kids who are sitting around scared of what's around them and so the foster care thing wasn't where we started, but I'd gone to a church conference that was talking about trafficking and I was sad at the number of kids who end up running away from foster care because as older children. They don't feel like they belong anything like our kids should belong just I want to move this along to your particular situation we deduct five children, one of the kids struggles and that is my oldest son, and what we think is beneath all of the trauma. There is also some sort of processing hardship and when you look at that, if there was a child with special needs in a healthy home. The way that they're able to gain support and resources is incredible.

There's so much available to them.

But when you take a child is already struggling with something and compounded with trauma that kids can have an uphill road to work through and I can tell you that with my child at Brandon.

He was it for me. Like I said the very first day he was with us.

He actually knocked our wall off the hinges and it was. I had never seen anything like it.

He lost his mind because somebody else got a turn on a game, and so that he was selves stock and this child.

We have worked through so many things with him where he still works through things but we now have a relationship where he receives the help in working through things and he has relationships with teachers and he has friends at school and so many things that were never there before. We still have a long ways to go but this kid who was so burdened by his trauma is now funny and weighty and you see that blossom all my goodness, I can even put words to it and there.

There are times where his processing he'll say something that that cracks us up to me just last night, my best friend. Her birthday is on Valentine's Day so my son who doesn't have a girlfriend says Valentine's Day is such a waste of a day.

I thought my daughter looks at him and says, but it's Angie's birthday and he says hello every year, every other right right actually what it will only count a few of these and so does those moments where he can be funny and he whether he is intentional or not he's in conversation and he's participating and he's really thriving in a lot of ways. Two years ago coming into a school.

I already knew this, teachers can have a bad year. I'm so sorry.

And then as the year progresses and they get to know the kids. They see that although you're not intentionally doing this.

That's the skill we need to work on here in the coming alongside and learn to love on our kids in very special ways and I would say that my son he is certainly noticed in his school. He stands out, but he's one of the principal's favorites and we know this because the principal goes out of way home I got there, we can laugh and we can enjoy and it no longer owe your kid is being bad it's open got stuck on this.

Can you help us with that is good that doesn't always happen that way. Manage that really well will talk about rather messy things that happen in families, which is part of everybody's story, but particularly when you open your heart and bring in some foster kids and Jesse Gallagher has written this great book. Many thorns yet still roses. We've got or call us if you'd like to learn more about what were encouraging you to do and that is a consider how you can help in the foster care system are numbers 800 K in the word family Jesse. I really appreciate the dose of reality.

And this is what you know many of the kids are going to test you because they find it difficult to trust right because they create those bonds in the broken of course the strongest bonding with her biological mom or dad or boats. And then they're not there for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately in the system and a lot of that is drug related opioid abuse has skyrocketed to foster an overload of the foster system in some state so that's the backdrop the kids are struggling emotionally. Let me ask you this in terms of temperament, people specially think people of faith have great intentions but God is wired you in a certain way.

I would think you and your husband are experiencing your husband's a military man.

I think that background, frankly, could be quite advantageous for the foster child in the terms of discipline and boundaries and those kinds of things the structure that that all brings some parents may struggle with this to speak to that reality of how you word your temperament and where it can harm and help a foster child so I know that when we first brought the kids home so many people told us just love on then and time will heal it and I didn't believe that that was true, because that's not the same when you raise a child without any kind of trauma background you need structure you need consistency and you need some of those hard conversations to take place. You can't just love or you least not in that way. You have to love through consistency and structure as well and routines are very important when you take on a child and you tell them hand and adopt you to make you mine will that's all good and well but they're still going to raid the pantry and hide it in their pillowcases and in the vents and other spaces because what if it is in all it's cracked up to be and it is not out of fear. You have enough absolutely truthful and the self-reliance they are trying to figure it out on their own because they don't know that they can count on someone else and we all work through that in developing relationships and skills but we typically work through it with the guide of good relationships. These kids are needing to a first place to start. And so, as they're working through it. I know that for us, our Mike my breakthrough moment of all my gosh this consistency that it feels like it's boxing me in is now letting them out and we can live together. This breakthrough story. We were sitting in a McDonald's and it was a dollar happy meal night and I had to let my kiddos on the bench across from me and one of them had to go to the bathroom as we stood up to get out the one who is sitting next to them assumed the kid would step in fronts of healing backwards as the kid actually stepped backwards. He fell over the edge of the booth and he fell and pancake onto the floor and it was like a nice slap sound right. As he hit the lady who was walking by step on his fingers to this terrible moment for this kid who actually turned and reached for me. He reached for me. He didn't crawl into his fetal position. He didn't cry in his own pain and misery. He reached for someone to be of help. And so when so many people start on a journey like this that breakthrough moment seems so far away because it is a breakthrough. It's not something that you know couple days in and then this shift is going to happen. You provide consistency and routine and you follow through on your words and over time as trust develops they are going to make a change and when they do, the door is now open for you to come in even closer such a beautiful story and I think even in our own experience, fostering wishing that you had one little boy to three years old and he stuttered the first three or four weeks that we have and really to Jean's credit. She worked with and just assured him and loved on moment it was.

It seem like a miracle. I mean I came home one day the stuttering was gone, but that's a another beautiful picture just those those little things that you can do that. Give them that stability that security the comfort with Brandon. You also had I think the Thanksgiving story. I love the stories I share those stories are so critical because people connect with those stories and this can be your story of salvaging a human life in the name of Christ.

What was Brandon story Thanksgiving so our Thanksgiving story was a really hard one. We especially in that first year we had a lot of daily difficulties with Brandon on this Thanksgiving. It seemed like it amped up and it was so hard and we just wanted to have a nice family holiday and at the end of the night I spent the time in my closet praying out to God, like why is this my life. Why are we here I'm doing everything I can. I'm following your lead. Why is this still what our family looks like I didn't feel in an instant response. I didn't feel an answer when I got up the next morning. It was such a moment of did. He walked us into this and just drop us here like was located so as I was getting breakfast ready the next morning I was just feeling so defeated and Brandon walked up to me unprompted and said hey mom, I'm really sorry yesterday went so bad I wanted it to be a good day.

The fact that he took responsibility and acknowledged that the Dave didn't work out. It was the first time that he'd ever done that and so it was a day that got worse.

That led to him wanting to take a step forward. He was beginning to see it to rationalize with through the big day. Absolutely.

And then it goes to show that I think that him wanting a special holiday contributed to the chaos of the day for a lot of these trauma kiddos. The extra stimulation. At times it can be hard. And so it cut it. It falls on us to walk a log sign that even better. Jesse like I can't in today without talking a little bit about you and Jordan in your marriage because a scribble of stress on your marriage especially if you haven't gone through having children already and I really applaud your courage.

I'm like your mom. But I love it because it's the heart of God is coming out and you're risking and that's the heart of God and you're laying it out there for these kids and that is all awesome.

I'll tell you that when we started the process and we were all excited and happy. Like any new expectant parents and all organized sports and were good at braided hair and were going to make messy meals, then the kids came home and there was a huge curve of oh, this is what it looks like you needed to adapt to what the reality was, and in those first several months he and I had never been closer and it was out of the survival of knowing that you had to lean on your spouse. So as the kids were like feral cats kinda running around in this when I got this one where is this when I was on this one and the shuffle that was taking place. I had to count on him. I couldn't second-guess him and he didn't have the time to second-guess me and then get into a phase of where it still chaotic and we can't blame it on the kids and we can't blame it on our server. Like there's just will Hootie start to pick at, then there is a small phase of the nitpicking and then I think the best thing happens where you start to realize you know things are tough.

You are here in the trenches with me. You're the only one sitting here in the trenches with me listening and accepting God's call right along side and so I feel like even when things are chaotic, your relationship can really benefit from being tested and that way I think one of the great challenges we face as Western culture when it comes to this. I'm sorry if this offends, and I'm waiting on myself and I'm still struggling with this. It's selfishness which when you think of your walk with Christ. I want to make you more like me and you say all Lord I want that I want to be more like you.

And then he says when that means you're going to be selfless. I don't want that part say it but it is so true. You really willing to lay your life down for somebody. Oh yeah that gets me in A+ and spiritual class, but when it really comes down to doing it. It's hard because were selfish creatures have, how did you manage your time.

How did you Jordan your husband words you get time. You can't leave these kids with babysitters because they're ill-equipped right so what you do. They agree it is very hard and you end up. I think that the most precious thing for me is that if someone had asked me with a very clear image of what this life would've looked like.

Can you handle this.

I don't think I would've been able to say yes on the front-end.

But what I do know is that God saw something in me, and he brought it out along the way and so those pieces those pieces that didn't fit perfectly on the front sight. He used my strengths and abilities that I didn't know I had keys Jordan strengths and abilities that I didn't know he had and has a walk-through. It you you find a new version of yourself and I think that if someone had asked me how I would've handled some of the circumstances on the front-end. I wouldn't have had the answer on that front end, but I do know that when you care about your kids and you care about following God, you're going to get creative and things will start to come into place. I don't think you need to have all the answers in advance. I don't think God ever promised us the answers in advance. But what he has said is that we need to follow them. Jesse, we have flown through this time together, but I think this last comment is the most important, perhaps the kids are all I think in their teen years now. My youngest is eight and my oldest is 15 okay so they're moving along on their doing better.

That's what I'm hearing is doing work but it it's it's moving in the right direction will encompass yes maybe not the protractor right my youngest. He when he first came to us he was scared to even smile or pout and make facial expressions because it hadn't really been modeled for him and he hadn't been supported in taking those vulnerable risks of showing how you feel and so we started off with putting blinders up on both sides of our faces so that he and I could make faces at each other and build over time and were now were about to hit our five year mark and this kid a look at me and he'll give me a glare around her and her facial good news that he likes smile that comes office so all of every single one of the kids has victories like that where the things they were stuck with. We've moved on work or facing new obstacles. Now I'm sure we all are with the teenager yet but but this is it when you look at the Longview when you project out there. When these kids are in their 30s man what an investment into eternity, you and Jordan have done and that really is the reward in your heart that you put them on a good path right.

I feel like the most important part for them is to show them that they are loved because if we can help them to see it then they can receive it from God to if we let these kids continue to feel unworthy or failures or unwanted that's a forever thing for them and so whether they end up becoming neurosurgeons or not. I just want them to know that they are loved and that is enabled them to achieve skills and abilities that they wouldn't have without the support so well said Jesse man, this is been so good you're speaking to my heart come back about nine-year-old phase.

All may be also would've adopted right that you're doing this and I just cheer you on.

I want to give you a chance to speak to the listener who's okay while this is interesting they're going to sit down at the dinner table tonight. Husband and wife there to talk about this. Make your pitch so I believe that there are many ways to get involved and obviously that top-tier would be taken some kids who have a need and whether that leads to adoption or not to start fostering so with fostering when you take kiddos into your home. You are changing their life and even though it's scary and hard on the front-end that's gonna walk you through it and there will be blessings in your life because of it.

You don't know what those blessings are in advance because we can't bargain for it, but you will look back and see where they are moving into adoption that Kiddo never has to worry about where they're going to call home again.

There is no better gift that you can give to a child when you know that there are families who are doing that and you want to see a little bit of what it looks like I feel like that context has not been spread very easily for us to peek in on what those families go through. You can also pray that is such a big piece because I feel like when people come together in unity. We can we can get God's ear and even for me. Particularly, even if we aren't getting the prayer were asking for the fact that someone is praying for a solution there now seeing a problem that they hadn't in advance and they might be used to answer it in a way that they wouldn't have if they didn't sit down to pray alongside you just to begin with.

So true.

That's one of the reasons we started with no more, which is the program we been doing out for 11 years we've had over 4000 families start the adoption process. You don't know because of you know privacy reasons we don't know the end result. But we anticipate over 4000 children have been adopted out of foster care because of that, we've expanded that now to encourage people to simply get into the foster system to become the foster parent and that's a process you have to be licensed by the state, nobles, good things, but like I said at the beginning the program. They need loving homes for these kids and no better place in a Christian home, in my opinion. And then, in addition to that, you can also be that respite diverts a big word that simply means be the caregiver to the family bring over the meal, do the laundry for the statistics show that it takes about four or five families to wrap around an adoptive family so that they have the best chance of success. Just think of that in your church find somebody in your church that has adopted a foster care and be willing to say I'll be that that support a family for you and here's the amazing thing with white. No more.

We have this down.

It cost $50 to help the child get placed into a loving Christian home, so if you want to do that along with prayer supported financially help Focus on the Family do all we can do together be part of it to bring that loving home to the waiting child and if you can do that man we will say Blessed are you will do join the team in support Focus on the Family's weight no more effort.

We've got details about that and all sorts of resources including of course Jesse's book many thorns yet still roses details in the program notes for this podcast or call 800 the letter a in the word family Jesse again, so good. Thank you for being with us.

Thank you for what you and Jordan and God bless and help get our number here of any assistance donate to the weight no more program is 800 K worth and if you can send a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today either a one-time donation or a recurring contribution to our ministry will say thank you by sending a complementary copy of Jesse on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back.

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