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How You Can Help Support Foster and Adoptive Families

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2021 5:00 am

How You Can Help Support Foster and Adoptive Families

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 8, 2021 5:00 am

Jenn and Josh Hook, joined by Mike Berry, offer advice to help foster and adoptive families find training and support. And, they describe how anyone can help care for hurting kids.

Get our guests book "Replanted: Faith-Based Support for Adoptive and Foster Families" for your donation of any amount: https://donate.focusonthefamily.com/don-daily-broadcast-product-2021-11-08?refcd=1171802

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Christmas memory making sharing stories with your family that's depicted in the play from Focus on the Family titled family traditions this story and paint by artist Morgan was of a lively family kitchen sink will find a special place in your home and find out how to get a signed version of the special edition print@focusonthefamily.com/family traditions. That's focusonthefamily.com/family traditions something so powerful to be in a group of people get it and say I see you I love you. Not bad parents had and were to come alongside you and walk with you through this difficult and challenging situation. We got you were with you, Dr. Josh Hook is our guest today on Focus on the Family along with his wife Jan and co-author Mike Marion together will be discussing the joys and challenges of foster care and adoption and how anyone can help care for hurting children for joining us today on John Fuller and hostess focus president and author Jim Dale John November is National adoption month in nine states and adoption awareness month in Canada.

It's an opportunity for us to highlight a great need and in the United States there are more than 400,000 children in foster care in over 100,000 that are waiting to be adopted. Scripture teaches again and again that each of us is called to care for the vulnerable. The question is how can we do that and work and explore that today. Maybe God has placed it on your heart to adopt and provide a permanent home for hurting child, but it also could be helping a family in your church was already answered that call and needs help, that is dramatic and Jean and I we did foster care and it was so good when we had one or two couples that could come alongside us to help us if you're thinking that might be me to any of those scenarios. Stay tuned to today's broadcast right Focus on the Family can help if you'd like to make a difference in a child's life. We have a lot of great resources .0 wait no more, which is our foster care and adoption program and that we can connect you with that team and those resources when you call 800 the letter a in the word family or click the link in the episode notes in her guests are Jan and Josh Hook along with Mike Berry. Jan is the founder of replanted that's ministry that serves foster and adoptive families through support groups and conferences and Josh is a professor of psychology at the University of North Texas Mike Mary is a return guest and he and his wife Kristen foster children for eight years and they now have eight adopted children and a really popular website called honestly adoption and together our three guests have written a book called replanted faith-based support for adoptive and foster families, and of course reach out to us if you'd like to learn more about getting a copy of that right, Jen, Josh and Mike welcomed the focus Mike. Welcome back. Thank you. It's good to be back with you, Jenna, Josh, let me aim this when you you've worked with both foster parents and their children Mike you live this. I think you and your wife foster 22 children, describe why foster care and adoption can be such a meaningful experience and I can attest to it. You learn so much in that role. It can be challenging.

Jean and I both said we wish we would've had the training for our own children are bio kids that we receive through fostering so wants to take a crack at that I can take a crack at it, you know, I think when you have an opportunity to step into a child story and walk alongside them in their experience in the healing and that's just a really beautiful opportunity. A lot of our kiddos have experienced really hard things they've experienced, separation from their birth families especially foster care. You're living a life of in limbo that can be really hard for our kids and our parents and so it's a great opportunity as a church. I support the stands as parents to be able to come alongside and say we see you we love you and Morgan walk this journey with you. Let me let me ask you this to Jen and the ticket often and Josh and Mike jump in but one of the things that you see as your fostering is the trauma that these children suffer, and you know sometimes if were living in kind of normal suburbia that you don't understand what's really going on. I remember one of the children that we fostered actually sibling said we got the call at 10 at night the state was looking for some home. They'd already called 10 homes where the last one on the list they were doing a drug raid that night. They said there may be children involved. We may have to bring you these kids that 12 in the morning. Are you able to do that and I was traveling and Jean said yes and it worked out exactly like that 12 in the morning. The kid showed up with the social worker and they had their Hefty bag of clothes and there they were, and I think we don't understand you know what a child expresses in that and that unfamiliarity with what's happening to me. These kids were two and four at the time to speak to that trauma affect yeah I mean every child that is been impacted by foster care, adoption is experienced, not something that we really need to understand different to support our children while I worked as a therapist in the foster care system in Illinois for several years and you know trauma drives our emotions and our behaviors and so if you have children that are experiencing these hard things and I had kiddos that you know are neglected or abused, where you know their parents were addicted to drugs and they can understand why is my parent getting sober to get me back. You know, these are hard things. Our kids are going through and they pick that up early.

Let me ask you to Josh when it comes to attachment issues. That's very common because there being sometimes move from home to home to home to home. Depending upon their situation that really plays a role in the child's underdevelopment they don't know how to attach to an adult. How do those behaviors express themselves when there's attachment issues yes so attachment involves our primary relationships with our caregivers early on in life and that provides the template for how we think about relationships moving forward. So ideally when we're young. Our needs are met in a consistent way by her caregivers and I we have that expectation relationships.

Going forward, but for kids who might have been abused or neglected or have dealt with other very significant challenges early in life, they might be of blatantly attached, which means they have trouble connecting and they keep people at arms length or they might have an anxious attachment in this sometimes happens when parents are inconsistently meeting their child's needs and so in that case kids might be clingy. They might be your truck over, trying her over active in their in trying to get their needs met. Right now that that's really well said Mike.

Let me bring in Jean and I can relate to the experience of foster care youth had 22 kids. We had prayed 15 in that context.

Working with the state. I mean, these are people that are very committed. I remember when I was a foster child at nine years old, I mean the person I clung to it was a foster agent now a social worker who was pilot 24 but she was such a breath of fresh air. I was like I just hang out with you, and I felt like she was the adult in the room if you know what I mean. But from both the child's perspective like I had and then from foster parenting perspective the state relationship can be a little daunting. In some ways you have to get your home certified there telling you what you need to do to speak to that issue and that attitude is you get into fostering what that looks like yeah is important to remember and we have a big heart for case managers and in the people who are working in the social services system.

Goodhart generally late yet, generally, and we have had, I would say out of all the case managers that we worked with 95% were were great, but it's important to remember that these are folks who are massively overworked and ridiculously underpaid for the job they're doing and I think it's important for caregivers to remember what we do is we place ourselves a lot in the roles of at least cognitively like what they're going through a case manager has to go in and remove a child from sometimes horrific situations, dangerous situations, and then place them in a home that that the child doesn't know with strangers that they've never met and they had and that child has no control over how long they stay there were really anything and so in the case managers on the front lines of this and so to put ourselves in the in their shoes. And to think through that and imagine what that's like. It gives you a compassion for caseworkers. You know it gives you an understanding of what they go through and you know, for us it it's helped us to do that because when we want to respond in frustration. We have to step back and we have let's just be honest were human beings right now so that I could roaster it is frustrating. I write lots of paperwork all things you gotta go through it some mountain of paperwork and you know recently are oldest daughter became a foster parent and ended and she was. She and her family were living in a guesthouse that was on our property and we suddenly found ourselves filling out amount of paperwork and were thinking were not even foster parents like that word is on the property right with you yet, we have to go through background checks and in it we had we had been out of the system in terms of foster parenting for you know since well since 2012. So here we are right in the middle of this that you were thinking. This is not what we signed up for. Yeah like this is a good place to insert this because you know one of the difficulties and one of the reasons we started wait no more.

And I believe the reason that all of us are involved in the space of foster care, foster adoption, respite care is our faith. I mean this is a compelling reason for Christians to engage one of the saddest things I had a state worker say to me was, we just need more loving Christian families to be involved. She minute sweetly. I took it as an indictment that with 80 million Christians in the country. We can take care of 400,000 kids. It is, there's about 400,000 churches in the country that be like one kid per church right now but it's frustrating. I think if we all did something the problem would be not solved that it isn't the problem to be solved with these kids would feel loved and they would hopefully have loving good homes where the fruit of the spirit is active not impatiens but patients not you know harsh discipline, but loving kind nurturing so you speak to that, just that if you tasted like I tasted if the church were really active. What a what it didn't. We could make in this problem now.

Yeah, you know, I think that unfortunately for a lot of churches and in the United States there very program driven the very I would say cue sheet driven and often times through lack of understanding of what the foster care system entails and and what families who foster go through. I think that's kind of it's pushed to the side just because it doesn't fit a program necessarily. I think if we can shift our perspective to this is more than a program. This is a calling, not just necessarily be apparent to be open, active foster parent but to participate in some way. I think what's valuable about the book like replanted and what Josh and Jen do through the replanted ministry.

What we do through the Odyssey adoption company is that we are equipping people to not just become an active foster parent.

We are equipping them to do something if you want to put it like that to participate to get involved. There's more than just active frustrating is what freaks people out like will you want me to do what with who you know it's like Ike I can't and I have the ability to do that at my to your point, I would say there are great success stories as well. I know you church your new life Church Brady Boyd the pastor when he and I have lunch and I mentioned the beginning of wait no more.

He said I'm in.

What can I do and that church adopted over 100 children out of foster care, and then additional families that did wraparound care and that's a great success story.

It's a big church, you know, there's 12,000 people in that church.

I get that but man they stepped up and again if there can be a handful of churches in every medium large small-town that can step up and do that we can achieve it yet and that the witness to the world for the gospel will ultimately they're watching to see how. Do not care about these kids and we sale we step up so I hope you're being encouraged along the way. Here is were talking to our guest today on Focus on the Family, we've got a doctor. Josh took his wife Jen Hogan and Mike Berry were obviously talking about hard things, but there are so many resources and you're not alone in this journey and if the Lord is nudging you to maybe explore a bit more reach out to us. Get a copy of the book that we mentioned replanted faith-based support for adoptive and foster families. Check out more about what Focus on the Family is doing were phone call away 800 a family or click the link in the episode notes. Jeanette described the replanted model and the three types of support foster and adoptive families need yeah so I think this is a really great opportunity for the church because if they can come alongside our families, with the parts that's really set our families up for success. We know that about 50% of foster parents quit after the first year 50% 50% and so if we can calm and we know that the number one predictor of a family thriving in support. There's been tons of research on this and so what we really need to key in on is how do we support our families allow and the kiddos well and so we we know that there's three areas that are really important for families to be set up for success. One is emotional support. So, being surrounded with people that understand your story and this is just as important for the kids. So when we talk about emotional support. Yes, it's great for parents to come in and be able to share their experience. I think about a child who never met their birth family before or their wrestling with why their parents and get sober to get them back or the experiences of having their siblings and then be separated in foster care. This is really important stuff for kiddos to come and be in relationship with others who get the second area tangible support so that slight practical resources on Dobson cost can be really expensive. You know what, you get a phone call right and that one in the morning off and you got three kids that have been impacted by foster care and you don't have beds or credits or whatever they need for the age group rates of needing tangible needs for families is really important in the other area that's really Chris is informational support and so that's understanding, and its impact on our kiddos and attachment in its understanding and getting parenting resources so that we are helping our kids and not hurting them further and so we have this model of you replanted in the sunlight rate. You can't just have a plan only getting signed if they don't have good soil or water at plants not to thrive and so those three areas that support the emotional, informational, intangible, are all all three are very important.

Yet that is so good and then you have a story in the book about Joseph and Sally feel alone when they had a five-year-old foster son with them.

That's a good story to illustrate your point. What happened with them yet so the little boy had been severely abused. A lot of times when children experienced, there is this anxiety response that they feel and summoning out there and experience abuse.

There's almost this after abuse has been experienced this decline and anxiety that they feel because they know that they're not can be hurt again and then as the days go on and they're waiting for it to happen again. The anxiety gets higher and higher, and so this little boy was struggling and got to the point where he is asking his foster parents to hurt him and sell his behaviors are out of control. Obviously he had a lot of emotions and a lot of behaviors that were happening and so his parents felt so overwhelmed and alone and I think for a lot of parents that haven't adopted or fostered you think of typical parenting strategies on how to respond not always helpful rate because they can be more in a consequence, or punitive, focused, and so these parents felt really alone. McMillan was understanding the journey they felt like they were in the trenches with their assigned who is just really struggling in his healing process and to know that he was safe and loved and cared for and honestly I think that's why I would love the church to say like we see you all the families that are fostering are in and adopting. We love you so much we love your kids so much that were on any get Tom informed so that we can wraparound you are, children's programs, or Sunday school programs. We can all wrap around you and love your kids well is there experiencing healing as their waiting in limbo to see if there were unifying with their families. You know, whatever it might be and I think if the church take that posture and support systems take that posture our families and to feel a lot less alone there.

And if you really loved and cared for.

The bottom line. There is and thankfully we've experiences.

The two children, two of the children that were with us siblings that they're doing so well. We just had them at the house.

They live out of state. We brought them to our home for little vacation and the dad is doing much better and and the kids are doing wonderfully. So that's the reward that you feel it doesn't always turn out like that. I know that but if you risk taking the step to move in this direction and to help miss what the Lord calls us to write bring in God shalom his peace. The world of chaos. I've said this often. John there is no greater chaos than an foster parents are in trouble and there's drug or alcohol abuse that they've had their own child trauma typically submunitions this repetitive thing going on there. 10 experienced land healing to get the kids back and bring God's peace and that pets were called to do everybody and it's challenging is not easy the Lord and say you know to be simple, but man is it rewarding to have those kids are home now and they're doing well in school and dad's doing well and it's all moving in a really good way that makes you feel pretty good general issues to know again if you look at the funnel I referred to as a funnel at the big end of the funnel.

The widemouth that's where a family can do respite care were. Maybe they provide weekend for that foster family to to just you know be together and do the things that they need to do to reconnect that way without you know the demands of the foster child it's been with them. That's a good thing.

And then there's also in that wide end of the funnel. The ability to do laundry for that family or to go shopping for their family or run some errands for that family. That's really helpful because that comes overwhelming right. Those are poisons are easy things that we should build to participate in, then it becomes a little more commitment to be respite even deeper respite care be regular on those things and then finally where you're making that commitment to foster and then the most commitment obviously is the adoption of a child. Do you kinda see it in that funnel context as well. Yeah, absolutely.

And I think part of why we wrote the book is it's for anyone what your wanting to foster or adopt or whether you want to support a family. I think everyone can play a role in cell whiteware.

Can you fit on that final Friday and I think it's important that if you're thinking about it really critically assess what you capacity and bandwidth for and what your capabilities because I think with the most hurtful for our families and especially our kids having people in and out of their lives as a me say yes some anomie to support you and then six months later you vanished because it's too much, and so we always say start small start with something manageable. Critically evaluate what can you commit to every month. If it's a meal once a month. Start there.

If it's stepping up to respite once a month. What is your commitment you know and be consistent because it's about relationship I we know that if I kids develop a trusting relationship with somebody outside of their family drastically changes the trajectory of their lives. This is not just babysitting. This isn't just about providing a meal. It's about investing in the lives of our kiddos and our families and so we have a really important role to play in their trajectory and in their healing process and so it's important to critically evaluate that there's no formula in the approach is willingness is the key, but one of the things I noticed because we started fostering when our boys were nine and 11 and I think at a younger age that had more complications to it because the kids that were coming in your home were about the same age and it created a lot of conflict and in then as they were older, like 14 and 16 and we were still getting 789-year-olds.

I was far better.

They jumped and they became big brothers to these kids.

They played was beautiful to see.

But if families need to consider that as well and I don't know if you've seen that that was our experience, but I don't know if that's typical of your own children engaging with these foster kids and what advice you might have got so we unpacked a lot of this in the bucket. It is so important that you're honest with your children in age appropriate ways about what you're engaging in a peer stepping in the foster care. Talking about that and having them be part of those conversations clearly outlining foster care. You know, foster care's typical goal is reunification.

In talking your kids honestly about living in limbo together as a family about what that might look like. It's really really important. You know our kids are feeling it as well and so we can't just acts like this is just our decision and they let it out with us the rate they need to be a part of that process and and fully engaged because this is part of their their experience as well. You know when you're looking at ages of kids we we asked families to really critically evaluate what their family is capable of on no. There used to be an understanding that he didn't want to disrupt the birth order in for some families that's true, but for some families it that's okay. And so it's really important to kind of assassinate for the kids who are already in your home. You know what is their emotional health look like wet wet are they capable of, as well, and kind of evaluating what your family can step into and say yes to Letson with encouragement.

What would you say to encourage Christians to consider jumping in and this is the last shot. I hope people do at least commit to pray about it and see if the Lord is nudging you sometimes in marriage in the work this way.

The wife has an inclination and the husband does not.

So you know it's important here on the same page right and so at least committing to pray is a good way to start this process. What would you add to that the encouragement that I would give is, it's a reminder that you have more ability you have more strength in you than you think you do. That's what I learned and I also learned that your heart. This is never a question of love we have the love in our hearts, we, our hearts are deep ocean with the ability to love ability to open up right. It's a question of are you willing to take this step.

Are you willing to step into this and and become a change agent become a a difference maker in the life of a child.

I I really think it starts with grace and grace for yourself. Grace for the kids experience and also grace for the birth families. This is meant that the triad relationship that you can step into and it's really important that you have a support system around you. And that's partly why we wrote the book we wanted to set families up for success. And so that's how we unpacked common attachment and you talk about discerning with wisdom wet wet is right for your family but how to support our families. Well let's a sort of support you need is really important to evaluate because good intentions aren't enough, you know, and the last thing that we have and why is our family to jump in with eagerness and realize a couple months and that this is so hard because it really hurts our kiddos and so it's really important that if you're thinking about this journey you need to wrap around and find support unit with replanted we help churches and organizations launch support groups we host a national conference and there is so many opportunities to get the support you need and for the church to say yes I see you I love you and working to do this with you and wrap around you. I think it's a really beautiful opportunity so yeah I think that the foundation of that is just having this heart of grace and love for yourself and for everyone. Those are all good things, a supernaturally great conversation. I hope the listeners will consider what they can do its demanding but it's rewarding and I think that is hopefully what you've heard today.

We emphasize the importance of supporting families after they've made that decision to do foster or adopt. And we have a program here. What no more. I'm sure John will put everything all the links and all the information that we talked about with Josh and Jen Mike today and you'll have no excuse and we shall be informed, take it up with the Lord is good advice. Jim and so pray and then reach out to us but we do have a great team and they really pull together so much of what we've talked about today, including details about wait no more, which is are programmed help families begin the foster care or adoption journey and it also provides crucial post adoption training like we discussed today. If God is not calling you personally to foster care, or to adoption. You can still join the support team for wait no more. Make a gift of any amount today to support that work and will send you a copy of the book by Jen and Josh Hook and Mike Berry again.

The title is replanted faith-based support for adoptive and foster families donate get the book and find further details about what we call the K word family 800-232-6459 or stop by the episode notes and you find all the links right there and give everything all of you for being with us, Josh, Jen, Mike, thanks for having us. Thanks for having us make plans to join us again next time. Here's some great wisdom and encouragement for grandparents. This is what we can do is grandparents over, on the sidelines were ready were sated naming mom and dad on here, but when we workout when they buy the whistle whenever they collect CN where fresh or were not about that right so we can come with strength 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 try just like a warm fireplace when it's cold outside and enjoy the Christmas season gives comfort and draws us closer to loved ones. I'm John Fuller, and Focus on the Family is excited to let you know about our Christmas stories podcast. Each episode brings heartwarming conversations to bring your family closer together and remind you of the hope we have in Jesus.

You can enjoy that podcast@focusonthefamily.com/Christmas story that's focusonthefamily.com/Christmas


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