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Offering God's Love to Children Without Families

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 3, 2020 5:00 am

Offering God's Love to Children Without Families

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 3, 2020 5:00 am

Darren and Stacey Gagnon share their inspiring story of adopting five special needs children as they discuss their extensive involvement with foster care and helping kids who've experienced abandonment and trauma. They encourage listeners to consider how they, too, can support children in need of families.

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I know that no one else had the ability to do what I do. I stepped into it and now I look at it I get every day in my home and it kind of like a high. Kind of like a lightning of my gosh that you can do, but you can view in the life of this kid list Lisa Gagnon describing her adventures as a foster and adoptive parent.

She's here with us, along with her husband Darren sure about their unusual family which is can inspire and encourage you today welcome to Focus on the Family your hostess focus presidents and Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller. Well, November is National adoption month and I am so glad that we can celebrate the courageous moms and dads would've said yes like Stacy and Darren who have stepped into the special calling and helped rescue really children that don't have families and it's a beautiful thing. Now we know that not everyone can be a foster parent don't feel a guilt trip. That's not the goal of the program. Today it's more to just make your word of the needs in foster care, adoption, etc. and then encourage it asked the Lord what you might be able to do it might be simply coming around and adoptive family and embracing them and helping them.

There's many ways to get involved in working to cover those today there's volunteering to babysit running errands, writing things that are wait no more website. We have a lot of different ideas about how you can come along side as Jim said a foster or an adoptive family and so stop by our website. We got the link in the episode notes and I've mentioned this before, but that when we started doing are wait no more program here Focus on the Family which was to exactly what I mentioned a moment ago to help inspire people to consider working in the foster care area. I got home and Jean said hey if you can ask others to do it. We need to do it like you're expecting what I was that I was like no, I was the foster kid. I don't have to go through that again. But she was right.

It was great to engage and we became foster parents. We had both long-term children and then short-term studies were they just need a place for a night or two, but it was so rewarding and again were going to cover this today and the US. It's called wait no more.

In candidates, call waiting to belong and that we are grateful for all the families of said yes and come to one of the event.

These events are all designed to kind of enlightened encourage and inspire families to open their hearts and homes to bring in a child through foster care and it's really made a difference in so many lives, it has now let me officially welcome our guests Darren and Stacy thank you for joining us today. We are delighted to be here. I so appreciate it.

As I understand you're both passionate advocates for orphans and that's great and you have a heart for kids with special needs, particularly which that special in itself because it comes with a lot of additional requirements and I really admire the fact he done that, but that wasn't the original intent when you started your family right so give us an idea about your family house comprised well and actually my original intent was no children and a lot of women are in that spot so I appreciate the honesty that I was a college athlete very driven career driven and I would say that starting I didn't want kids. And then you know we need to get to them what was that motivating reason to not want children other than you are an athlete, was that they were would be a distraction, or just some that up for me. Just summing up his mind was raised by single mother, my father was an alcoholic and in my mind I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to have a failing marriage or have a child be raised by single mom and so I think that in my mind, there were other things I could do. I wanted to work with kids, but I didn't necessarily want to have my own to raise not appreciate that. And obviously, your testimony, your life shows that God change your heart in that regard with a sense of humor. Yes, so II think as we were looking at our family the night I conceded. Okay, let's have two children and we had a boy and a girl and and we were done and so at that point I was teaching in elementary school and a student came in my classroom who is new and with any new student, you know you said and by that student who is super driven and in super organized and why I always moved around here and so I started teaching away and going about the day and about halfway through the day look back and he is slumped over on his desk, and I hear him just ugly sobbing and I'm coming Austin so I walked back there and I put my hand on his shoulder and I had come right outside the classroom door and he just slumped down the side of the building and was sitting on his head and is in his arms and I kneel down and let's go ahead and he looked at me and I just remember his face. He noticed streaked with tears and he said they took me from my home last night I went to a foster home in this town and I don't know the ladies name. I'm staying with. And I don't even know what best right and I was just horrified that one of my students was living this and so I did a little more investigation and found out that in my community that they were having to stack children in homes because they didn't have the foster homes until I went to Darren and Angie said you know we need to do this we can you home for kids. We have extra room in know we can we can do that. So I guess the rest is history, and the child was 80.

Yes, I'll tell you that such a significant moment because I love that to mean that loneliness and that unknowing.

This is the best way to describe it, and when the teacher would put their hand on my shoulder and say you need help.

It was an awesome thing you know it just reinforced the fact that somebody does care. Darren, your teacher, that's what you have done and that's beautiful. You taught high school. Talk about you is the husband so you know your wonderful wife is say hey I'm feeling like this knowledge were you sure so you not. I've always enjoyed working with kids all through college. I taught middle school Sunday school that is one of those guys is just a middle school and it was always great at not felt like in this situation got kind of silly, open your eyes to the situation and then I'm going to ask you to do something about America so many times likely we are aware of things but we hesitate to get involved. You know it's life can be pretty complicated sometimes. And so, in this case when Stacy told me what happened.

Talk to some friends of ours are foster family and we just decided why not God's calling us to do it.

We should do it and explore the why not because it's not easy.

Sometimes you'll get a child that you know it can be easier but the strolling come with a lot of emotional baggage and I do want uncover the move along. Let me ask you about backwards parenting. That's an intriguing. I guess approach what are you getting at when it comes to backward parenting, especially those kids are coming from trauma which many of these kids. I know the 15 or so kids that we have through our home.

Some were little babies you know they're coming in because their mother was addicted to drugs and they're trying to sort out then others had other issues where there was abuse or something like that. But they come in with brokenness mean that's where you have to start and it's gotta keep your anger or your overzealousness and check right absolutely start with thereat and and I think so. We laugh because what I said earlier as we thought, love can fix this. I'm going to apparently get in my bio kids in. We subscribe to so many of Dotson's buttocks know we love that we read the strong-willed child we read all of the books because we wanted to be prepared. And I will tell you yes that with my my trust base might my bio kids that worked but that kind of parenting does not work so much with the trauma child because their brain has been the foundation of their brain is different and so backwards parenting is understanding that behaviors communication and we believe that right and we say that behaviors communication but for some reason down the road we start. We kind of lose that and so when we're parenting our kids and we see a scary behavior. We recognize that scared kids do scary things and so we are look we are going to ignore the behavior and figure out what is the underlying need or fear that is not met. Right now it all goes back to attachment all this back to that early foundational thing that's happening and so when we are backwards parenting.

It is not a free ticket out of consequences. It's understanding I'm not in a play whack him always behaviors all day and not actually figure out why the behaviors of how well which is the abating that these kids typically do because I think in so many ways. They want to basically say you love me even if I'm in then you can fill in the blank Jeff some example so people can attach to what you're saying. I mean, again, people that have compliant bio children like what is going on.

You know it's kind like the person who's never had children in the grocery store watching the kid have a frantic moment and in they say to themselves, when I have children, they will never act like that. Well, I don't think that's right. You will soon find that not to be true, but give us an example of what you experience with these traumatized kids and how they continue to say we love me even if I I like to use this storied. It does not shine kindly on me, but it was when we first started fostering ennui. We got to children in our home and often is the case in foster care. You don't know the history, yet you know we were told that we were getting a foreign half-year-old and a two-year-old who didn't speak English, they only spoke Spanish, which we find out later that they didn't even speak Spanish they they were pretty much speaking gibberish, but I remember within the first week of being home or in my home. I had made cupcakes for all the kids and I put them on the counter and I had told all of them like hey guys, we can have these after dinner. Don't eat the cupcakes and I'm pretty sure right now your studio audience or whoever is laughing because I guess I'm sure you guys can all guess what's can happen. I left the room to go do laundry because at my house. There is always laundry to do and when I came back in the foreign half your boy was standing there with cupcakes and both have cupcake all over his face. I just I rounded the corner and I looked at him and I said did you eat the cupcakes while I'm sure you can guess now know and I'm looking at him and I'm like you're holding the cupcakes in your hand, and he is like he's gonna line me again no and he puts it behind his back and now and he's adamant that he did meet the cupcakes and I'm adamant they holding the evidence in his hands and so in that moment I realized that I was triggered by his lying.

He was triggered with a survival brain telling him the worst thing that ever happened to me is not happen again.

And so he was going to lie to survive and had I known his internal narrative his history I would've understood that he and his sister had been locked in a room in an apartment with with no one around. No one even knew children lived in the apartment. They had witnessed the murder of their infant brother. They had been without meals many many times and so I didn't know that and I was going to punish the behavior instead of recognizing that he was a child had food insecurity, and so we learn very quickly while he had his own set of food we nicknamed him pop tart because he was having whenever he wanted. We would just like you know immediately box the pop tarts Knesset. He left and so that's appointed backwards parenting were we recognize that the behavior doesn't matter, it's what's the underlying need that needs to be met. That's really good there looking for you in here because you know people are listening we've had about 5000 families start the adoption process through foster care which is great. That doesn't count the number the have wrapped around other adoptive parents, etc. we don't know that number you know there can energized by the discussion. They know what the Lord is calling them to the book of James talking about caring for the orphan and others that apprehension described and how to have the tube you get through that apprehension, you know, space, and I over the years and talked about the idea of the American dream, right everybody talks about the to have kids and a dog in a nice home and yeah exactly and so we decided once we get really set out to be foster parents, a kind of fell in our lab we responded when we were kinda called to do about weekend I learned early on, like if you truly going to do what God asked you to do the American dream has become a goal go away and you start to live your life with purpose and you so so you give is a lot of fear involved and I think that especially for people who are looking from the outside in fostering you here all the horror stories of people who had bad experiences but you can get through that you can go with faith in you can say you want to do it even if things might go bad. We know this is what we can fill were called to do when facing our fostering you know the phone will ring and they would say we have a child and you know most the time you ask lots of questions you know you want another agent.

Lots of information about their background to decide if it was a good fit for your family while after maybe six months of fostering and the phone kept ringing and we kinda didn't know what we should say yes or not we just decided you know that doesn't make any sense. If the phone rings were just going to say yes because we will know that God is already just decided were the ones that they're going to call they could call all kinds of different foster families, but they called us so face just leads us to say was that you say yes, and I think I think people just need to recognize that if if there listening to what the Lord is calling them to do just say yes and he will take care of the details. Now that context, you have the two bio children that talked about but you had something like 30 foster kids come through your home and you adopted five of those I believe is accurate.

So we got three of them and inducted two from ages in Eastern Europe. Okay so you know quite a combination of needs and no parenting needs etc. but one your son's name, Joel very special described their all special obviously but Joel had unique challenges what what was Joel story so Joel we were done after four so it is not like we have room for one more and we had just know adopted our two middle children that have special needs and this is a niche everybody wants the baby or everybody wants you know the child is no typical and no we lets get a home to child that maybe would not get home and so we said one more and so at that point we let our licensing worker now and she like us only goodness I know this kid, I saw a year ago so she tells me about this child in another town called Golden heart syndrome in Golden heart is a craniofacial impairment or deformity if you well so Joel has facial disfigurement. So is missing an ear part of John his face and death and also has vision issues and so we would like this.

Like I said, yes, no, just learn to just be obedient.

Say yes and we went to meet him and it was just I instantly knew like he's he's number five, while swords confirm that in your heart that takes some consideration, I agree with you Darren that this Christians yes I love the step of faith, but that can be intimidating to most people, and I understand that it's not a guilt thing. How did you plow through that.

I mean just to say yes because we trust God's got a plan.

Here, we need to be part of it is that simple.

I guess I would say yes because nothing we do makes sense on paper from finances to what our family makeup is to all that the things that we do from day-to-day.

None of it actually makes sense unless God involved in it and so on.

And I also if your listeners get here.

This disability is not a tragedy. God for my children to be exactly who they were supposed to be an tragedy is the fact they didn't stay with her bio parents.

That's a tragedy.

And I think when you are looking at kids.

We all and adults to we all have things that are special needs or extra needs within us. My children's extra needs are just more external, and so I don't I will tell you if you met my kids you would just like you are so lucky we are so lucky is beautiful in effect led to you writing a children's book with Joel about Joel in a way but it's called cowboy Joel in the wild wild West.

What happened with that how that idea, but you know that was it was a long process but it was really fun to do.

You know years ago when Joel was pretty young. He kind of a bad experience and and Stacy wrote a blog post to talk about how as parents we just need to be intentional about teaching kids that their other kids. You look different and we can kinda prepare them ahead of time we might avoid some of the issues that Joel has schedule looks different and so kids look at him and and tend to stare and it's just a matter of misunderstanding. Most of the time. And so, in that it happened we got contacted by NBC. We have gone the Megan Kelly show.

We talked about about how we can parents do a little bit better and then out about people. So how do we do it, how do we teach our kids about kids who look different if we don't know any kids.

And so we wrote a book that's good in fact that was born out of an experience where you took Joel church and kids were kind of not very kind. They were looking, staring, maybe I is that a fair description yes so I had walked in back.

We had gone to a new church is our oldest son was presenting there and so I had walked to back to the children's ministry and I forget that he looks different, like we live in a small community and E just people are using the Cisco with other kids and so we don't see it or recognize it till we actually leave our town and so when we walked back into this children's ministry building every kid. When we walked in the door stop talking started whispering behind cupped hands and pointing at him and he just like ran to the back of the room and put his head into his arm and unlike so to me it just it just me, midsection, parents have got to teach their kids the correct way better with a better way to teach especially in the context can only imagine Joel's little heart you and so you blog about that little bit of reaction yes I went wrap it went viral and you know it just really became more of a kind of for us to be able to speak out about how to educate kids on children that have differences. Stacy you've admitted on. I think very kindly you know you're not a perfect mom. Guess what, there are no perfect mom and no perfect beds, but we try hard and that's the point.

But I do want people because part part of what we want to do is nudge people to consider how they can get involved right in that regard. One of the challenges you face and what did the Lord teach you about being enough for your kids, not perfect, but being enough and, letting go of the laundry and all the stuff that make you feel imperfect because it's not all done you know I look back on just my life and especially in college and shortly after I was very performance driven as a college athlete. I excelled in academics and in sports and I wanted to carry that over into motherhood and you know with my two oldest my biological children I really was so driven to have a perfect home.

My kids dress perfect.

My kids received all the things that I felt like made me a good mom and made us good parents to them. When we started fostering. I started drowning. I couldn't maintain the perfection that I had for myself and the reality is like I believe like foster care and adoption has saved me from from a life of just performance for man and these kids have like they honestly expose some of my ugliest parts, and even in our marriage but it's been so beautiful because God is met me in the spaces and saying like you're enough because you're showing up to love them every day and my kids are not in every sport. We know we both work full ride college athletes.

None of our children are athlete, athletic not getting alike when they're not in every sport. I don't get to make every single production. I'm not able to keep up with laundry.

You know I am one of the worst cooks in the whole wide world. Think I married someone that can cut like and it's okay because I'm enough as a mom in Christ teaching my kids that got left wife so beautiful because Jesus himself was the example of getting involved in messing this woman at the well.

The woman caught in adultery the tax collector. He just kinda went were the righteous people to go and I think it's a great example. You know were he's telling you get involved in the mess. Let's end with the story about your son Israel and tell us about Israel can describe enforcement else how you taught them to become more independent. By learning to get into a wheelchair because I think it's a great example of not falling prey to overdoing it to make them so dependent just to give you a little back story on Israel. He I was scared to death to bring Israel home when I met Israel. He was 4 1/2 living tied to credit in Eastern Europe. He had zero language as a foreign half-year-old he was on a liquid diet and with size of a one-year-old and so we brought Israel home did not mean it was easy because God had shown me that I thought I don't want my son to be caged by me and so he started thriving in our home. It was amazing.

He started talking.

He started eating normal foods. He started getting around and I recognize and him this desire to overcome and as a mom I had this incredible desire to protect because I know what he had left for foreign half years and so it kind all came to a culminating point where he wanted to get into his wheelchair and I told him Israel you're going to get in your wheelchair, and he looked at me and he said mommy I can't. It's hard. And unlike you can do this and I walked out of the room and I stayed at the door and I watched him for 30 minutes trying and falling, trying and falling and then came the moment where I just saw him do it and he said mommy I did it and I think that that's our goal in parenting our kids is just saying you know it doesn't matter. Your past doesn't matter where you come from, but you you can be independent. You can do all these things because your love, your safe and ready. While there so much in their you're talking about a curfew of bio kids adopted kids and that is what the Lord you can really since Stacy and Darren how the Lord has shaped your heart and the things that you've learned through the process are beautiful and you know I think for me, the last point in the thing that I'm so concerned about for the church.

Certainly North America that may not be true globally, but the church in North America. We seem so wrapped up in modernity were failing to recognize God's basic call to sacrifice to love those around you, and you demonstrated that such a beautiful way and we just need more people to say yes. And so, get messy. I can live for perfect omelette for imperfect but good enough. And that was such a beautiful story of this wonderful book cowboy Joel in the wild wild West. What a great expression to help kids understand how some people are different and how do we interact with them and treat them. And just like the Lord's heart we do that with respect and love for that individual. Thank you so much for being with us today. Thanks for having us on and really encourage you to get a copy of this great book cowboy Joel in the wild wild West for your child for your grandkids, your church get copies of this book, spread it around. Help children understand not everybody's made the same, and there is some joy in in the other child. It doesn't look like you get a copy for M. Focus on the Family websites and phone number are both included in the episode's please send a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family Joyner support team and will send a copy of the Goodman's book right out to you as our way of saying thank you for supporting our efforts to wrap around foster care and adoptive families on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back once more help you and your family thrive invest in your child's faith all year long. Keep them engaged in learning Christian values with the action-packed fun filled activities in clubhouse Junior and clubhouse magazines from Focus on the Family subscribe today, but

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