Category Archives: Foster-Adopt

How Foster Parenting Has Changed Me

How Foster Parenting Has Changed Me

Dr. John DeGarmo Leading expert in Parenting and Foster Care Field.

“How has your life changed while being a foster parent?”

It was a question I had been asked a great deal of late. Recently, I had been doing the rounds of radio and tv interviews while promoting my newest book, Faith and Foster Care. Like most people, many of the radio and tv hosts had very little knowledge of what being a foster parent is really about. I would imagine many of your own friends and family members don’t really understand what you do, either. Additionally, they likely do not understand how your life has changed.

I have said it many times, in many places; foster parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. It IS hard work. At the same time, it is also Heart Work. It is the most important job I have done, as well. I have been able to watch the lives of over 50 children change while living in my home.

Yet my life has changed, also, in so many ways, in so many areas. Of the 50 plus children that has come to my home, come to live with my family, each has made me a better person and has made an impact on my life in some way.

I have learned to love deeper, more openly, and without abandon. I have learned to love each child that comes into my home in an unconditional manner, and without reservations. I am no longer ashamed to tell people that I love them. I cry openly now, and am no longer embarrassed when it happens. The saying that “real men don’t cry” is rubbish to me. I have become an emotional cripple in that manner, yet in a healthy way. In a way that I embrace.

Foster parenting has created a sense of urgency within me to make a difference in the lives of those in need. Perhaps it is due to the children’s horror stories that I have been witness to, and have watched come through my home. I now am able to see the pain and suffering in others, and am better equipped to help them. To be sure, I have always been one that has wanted to help others, but since I have become a foster parent to children who have suffered from abuse, from neglect, and from being abandoned, all by those who profess to love them the most-their birth family members, I have felt compelled to help even more.

I have learned to forgive more. Love and forgiveness are two actions that are intertwined, and cannot be separated. If we truly love others, then we need to forgive, as well. Without forgiveness, there is no love. When I was angry towards our foster teen’s mother, I was in no way sharing love. Instead, my stomach was in knots, and I was one tense parent. I was shackled by my own inability to forgive someone, a prisoner to a debilitating emotion. Yet when I did forgive her, it felt like a weight was taken off my own shoulders. One of the amazing things about the act of forgiving others is that it allows us better use our energies towards something that is more constructive, more positive. Forgiveness frees us from the forces of hate and evil, and instead allows us to draw closer to others, and gives us more strength to do the work we are called to do. When we forgive the actions of our foster child’s birth parents, not only are we showing love to them, and empowering ourselves, we are also honoring our foster children.

Foster parenting has transformed me into becoming a better parent to my own children, husband to my wife, and citizen to my community and the world. For each child that has come through my home, I give thanks. For each child that has allowed my family to grow, you will always be part of my family. For each child that spent time in the foster care system while living with my family, I shall always love you.

To my fellow foster parents, thank you for what you do. Thank you for making sacrifices in your own life to care for those in need. Thank you for loving children without abandon, and as family. Thank you for changing the lives of those in need. May your own lives be changed, as well.

Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 14 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 50 children come through their home. He is a consultant to legal firms and foster care agencies, as well as a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system. He is the author of several foster care books, including Faith and Foster Care: How We Impact God’s Kingdom, and writes for several publications, including Fostering Families Today. He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.

 

 

Little Known Facts About Fostering

Little Known Facts About Foster Parenting

 

  • Single individuals as well as married couples can become foster parents
  • Over 80% of Virginia’s foster parents adopt a child who they fostered
  • There are national organizations that provide training, support and advocacy for foster parents
  • Foster parents have a right to attend court hearings on their foster child and can discuss their concerns with the judge
  • Foster parents also are expected to help develop the service plan for the child with the social worker

Get to Know Foster Love Ministries

Foster Love Ministries has grown out of our local “The Forgotten Initiative” group because of a desire to be more welcoming, more supportive and more focused on all families associated in any aspect of the “children in foster care community”.

Their mission is to bring hope, love, joy to our local foster care community by partnering with churches, community members and you.

Visit this link to learn more about them:

https://www.facebook.com/Fosterloveministries/

We Never Outgrow Need for Family

A message from the Commissioner of Virginia Department of Social Services:

Right now in Virginia, nearly a third of the 869 foster care youth awaiting adoption are teenagers.  This is why I am so excited about this year’s National Adoption Month theme: “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family”.  This year, as the Virginia Social Services System continues the hard work of identifying permanent, loving families for all of Virginia’s waiting children, we will work especially hard to emphasize the need for permanent families for older youth in foster care.

Throughout the month of November, our website and social media sites will feature adoption information to assist families and adoption professionals on a weekly basis.   On November 21, in honor of National Adoption Month, many local departments are hosting adoption celebrations throughout the Commonwealth.  These and other events are so important because child welfare professionals, as well as prospective and current adoptive families, need relevant information regarding waiting children, the adoption process and post adoption services.  Awareness is a critical component of increasing interest, understanding, and ultimately the connections made toward the goal of foster care and adoption.

Last year Governor McAuliffe appointed Debbie J. Johnston as the State Adoption Champion.  This past spring, Ms. Johnson established Connecting Hearts, the Debbie J. Johnston Charity, to bring awareness to the number of foster care youth available for adoption, and the need to recruit foster-to-adopt families across Virginia.  In just a short year, Connecting Hearts visited all five regions across the state to gather feedback from public and private child welfare professionals regarding barriers to adoption.  Today, VDSS’ Division of Family Services, in collaboration with Connecting Hearts, is hosting the first annual Adoption Summit for adoption professionals.  The summit will provide workshops on successful recruitment efforts and strategies as well as testimonials from former foster youth.  Governor Terry A. McAuliffe and Secretary William A. Hazel, M.D. are attending this special event, to applaud adoption professionals for their work in finalizing adoptions for 620 children last year, and support our efforts to find permanent homes for the 869 children still awaiting adoption in Virginia.

Thank you for your efforts to help raise awareness about the adoption of children and older youth from foster care!  I encourage you to visit the National Adoption Month 2015 website https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/, which has adoption resources for a variety of audiences, including prospective and adoptive parents, birth parents, adopted youth and adults, and child welfare professionals. The website contains resources, stories, and videos on topics including ways to recruit families for older youth, outreach tools, and information for prospective adoptive families.

For more information about National Adoption Month and to learn about local programs and activities in your community, visit the Adoption Event Calendar, http://spark.dss.virginia.gov/divisions/dfs/ap/festivities.cgi, or contact Sondra Draper, Adoption Specialist, at sondra.draper@dss.virginia.gov.

I cannot thank you enough for your diligence in identifying lifelong connections for our waiting youth.  This is special work that affords children the love and support they need to achieve successful outcomes as they enter adulthood.  Have a great and productive National Adoption Month!

Christmas Project

Each year as autumn begins, we match Christmas gift donors (church, civic organization, business or individual) with children in care. Each child submits a wish list and donors buy and wrap several items from the list (within limits of affordability and availability)

Christmas Project 2015 has begun… letters have been sent to local churches and to interested businesses and individuals… later this month we will ask children to send in their wish lists… as we get wish lists we will match them to donor groups (early to mid November)… that will give donors time to coordinate their activities, buy, wrap and deliver gifts to our Verona office between December 14 and 18.

Wish Lists are arriving… being matched to donors… Thanks to all who are participating!

Send your mailing address to  Heather Hudnall at  heather.hudnall@dss.virginia.gov for more information.

Get to Know CRAFFT

CRAFFT:   The Consortium for Resource, Adoptive and Foster Family Training

CRAFFT promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children by helping shape stronger foster, adoptive, respite, and kinship families (collectively referred to as resource families) who serve local Departments of Social Services (LDSS) to meet the needs of children and youth in Virginia’s child welfare system.

CRAFFT’s goals are:

  1. to increase the knowledge and skills of prospective and currently approved resource families through the development and delivery of standardized, competency- based, pre-and in-service training, as required by VDSS; and
  2. to build capacity among (LDSS) to train and assess their own families.

Learn more by visiting http://www.crafftva.org/

There is a CRAFFT Coordinator assigned to each of the five VDSS regions to respond to the pre-service and in-service training needs of LDSS resource families and LDSS staff. Most of the trainings offered by CRAFFT are open to all LDSS resource families and staff in the assigned region. However, occasionally trainings are limited to resource families and LDSS staff from one agency/locality.

Or contact our Coordinator directly:

icon three circlesPiedmont Region CRAFFT Coordinator
Susan Taylor
Radford University
School of Social Work
Box 6958
Radford, VA 24142
staylor22@radford.edu
804-347-4095

Current or prospective resource families interested in participating in a training provided by CRAFFT should contact their LDSS worker to express their interest. LDSS will contact CRAFFT to schedule trainings and to enroll prospective parents.

 

 

Get to Know FACES of Virginia – New Found Families

Faces of VirginiaNew Found Families is the state-wide association for Foster, Adoptive and Kinship families. FACES is in transition to a new name:  New Found Families

Membership is open to any individual, agency, or organizations supporting the FACES mission. Join today and help us build a strong statewide voice for foster, adoptive, and kinship families. Together, we can make Virginia a better place for children and youth unable to live with their birth parents.

We believe that foster, adoptive, and kinship families are our best opportunity to secure strong futures for children and youth not living with their birth parents. Advocacy FACES advocates for the needs of all foster, adoptive, and kinship families in Virginia. Collaboration FACES builds partnerships with local agencies, private agencies, state government, and many other organizations working to improve the lives of children not living with their birth parents. Empowerment FACES provides educational opportunities to families so they are bettter equipped to be valued partners in protecting the health and safety of children and youth. Support FACES believes that mutual support strengthens families and improves placement stability for children and youth.

Visit FACES at http://facesofvirginia.org (will open new window)