Statistics Smistics

The other day I was reminded yet again just how much is stacked against our younger children.

The latest statistics from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data for FY 2014(link is external).

415,129 children were in foster care on September 30th, 2014, a 4% increase from 2012

264,746 children entered care – that translates to a child entering care every two minutes in the United States

238,230 children exited foster care

107,918 children waiting to be adopted on September 30th, 2014

60,898 children waiting to be adopted whose parental rights (for all living parents) were terminated

50,644 children adopted with public child welfare agency involvement

Who are the 415,129 foster children?

Sex

Age

Race

52% male
48% female

39% 5 years old or under
23% 6 to 10 years old
22% 11 to 15 years old
16% 16 to 20 years old

2% American Indian/Alaskan Native
1% Asian
24% Black or African American
0% (525) Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander
22% Hispanic (of any race)
42% White
3% Unknown/Unable to Determine
7% Two or more Races

Where are foster children living?

  • 4% Pre-Adoptive Home
  • 29% Foster Family Home (Relative)
  • 46% Foster Family Home (Non-Relative)
  • 6% Group Home
  • 8% Institution
  • 1% Supervised Independent Living
  • 1% Runaway
  • 5% Trial Home Visit

Why did the 238,230 children leave care in 2014?

  • 51% Reunification with Parent(s) or Primary Caretaker(s)
  • 7% Living with other Relative(s)
  • 21% Adoption
  • 9% Emancipation
  • 9% Guardianship
  • 2% Transfer to Another Agency
  • 0% (1,138) Runaway
  • 0% (326) Death

Gender Preference in the US

*Gender Requested by Adoptive Parents
70-90% Girls, 10-30% Boys

*Gender of Children Awaiting Adoption in U.S. Foster Care
Same ratio reported for 1998, 2000, and 2001
48% Girls, 52% Boys

*Gender of Children Adopted from U.S. Foster Care, 1971-2001
64% Girls, 36% Boys

*Gender of All Adopted Children in the U.S. Under Age 18
According to The year 2000 U.S. Census
53% Girls, 47% Boys

 

When I heard the latest statistic, which isn’t mentioned above, my first reaction was to feel a bit disheartened. I felt like one more heavy brick was being stacked against our kids. But then that fighting spirit in me began to grow. My God is bigger than any statistic! He can overturn any negative stat and turn it into a positive one. Our children have overcome so much already. Yes, the tables may be stacked against them but I stand on the power and grace of God. The giver of life, the Redeemer, the father to the fatherless, husband to the widow, healer of broken hearts, sustainer, grace and forgiveness giver…I really could go on and on. I choose to believe in who my God is and His power, not the statistics that peddle their way into lives attempting to destroy them.

By God’s grace, our kids will rise.

Big Family Mama

Looking at my life, while I have always been more of an introvert, I think I was destined to be a mama to a big family.

Growing up for a time we lived with our grandparents and two aunts. My mom comes from a big family and always having family around was normal for me as a child. Many big potluck meals, sleepovers squished in with cousins, learning to bake with Grandma and fractions with Grandpa help shape the way I see family today.

Having divorced parents who both remarried meant having multiple siblings…full biological, step and half, step mom, step dad all trying to blend into one. Kind of weird when a classmate becomes your step sister or that you are old enough to be the mom of your three half brothers. This shaped the way I view blended families.

Take the time my mom and I were visiting my cousin in the hospital. The little patient he roomed with lay helpless in his crib having broken limbs planted the seed of adoption in my heart. That seed being watered and fertilized unknowingly along the way. Leading me to have a heart that sees adoption as being family.

When I met my husband, Robert, he wanted four kids, which to me was a big family. Huge in fact. I thought he was crazy, but I loved him and said why not. I had not yet put all of these events together. I could not yet see how God was preparing me all along to mother six kids.

It wasn’t until about a year or so after bringing our youngest kids home and our kids were sitting around the table that being a mama to so many kids felt right. The so many became family. They became who I am, who I was called to be all along. Our house is noisy. There is always a door opening or closing in our home. There is currently dog hair and dirt mixed in with the wet pool feet marks on our freshly cleaned floors. One child is happily drawing on the patio table while four others are cooling off in our small rectangular pool after playing backyard baseball. And when our oldest and her husband join us we feel that much more complete. To be called their mother I am grateful.

Good Parenting ISN’T Easy

The other day at my 60 something appointment since February I got two comments, in regards to our big family, ones that I get too often.

“It must be hard.” and “You seem so calm.”

First of all, parenting brings the best out in a person but it can bring out the worst as well. My husband and I are no more “special” than the next parent. And trust me we have been pushed to our limits more than our fair share on this parenting journey. So if you think I am calm…thank you. But really you are looking at the work God has done in me or you just caught me at the right moment.

Second, of course, it is not easy. Good parenting is never easy. Raising a child into a functioning, civilized, caring human being, one who knows they are capable of reaching their potential takes work. That is raising them from day one, with your DNA. Throw in someone else’s’ DNA and all that goes into raising kids from foster care and no it is not easy.

Today I see things in a different light. I used to take so much for granted when I only parented our bio kids. Sometimes it takes a broken mirror to show you just how important the little things you did really are. So many of the little moments, just talking about the everyday things like “Oh, look at that bird,” all of the small touches, the little everyday connections, if missing can really affect a child. Not to mention when bad stuff happens.

My husband and I truly feel no different than the next good parent trying their hardest. We have no special super powers (though I wish we did, they’d sure come in handy). We haven’t taken any over the top intense training to prepare us for this. A lot of it has been off the cuff parenting, a LOT of praying and yes, a lot of failing.

Moms and dads, don’t let the media or those around you pressure you into feeling like you are not a good parent. None of us are great…well okay there are those among us. None of our lives are Pinterest perfect. (At least no one I know.) We all make mistakes, we all yell at times, we all lose it and you know what…that’s okay. We are showing our kids that it’s okay to be human, to be less than perfect. It’s okay it mess up. They get to see how we handle failure, how we handle a stressful situation, a major plot twist in life. To me, that is what real parents do. If you don’t have laminated ABC’s on your walls…it’s okay. Your kids don’t care. They want your time and attention. They want to be bored and discover things on their own. They need to fall and figure out how to get up on their own.

Parenting isn’t for sissies for sure, but I really haven’t met too many of those, so you are more than likely going to be just fine as a parent. So pull up your big girl/boy panties and stand your ground, spend time with your kids, make the hard decisions (I have said this more than once, “I want you to be safe more than I want you to be happy.) Make your kids do chores, teach them to forgive, show them how to notice and accept others around them. Give them new experiences in and out of their comfort zones. Let them cry, let them feel pain, let them know the depths of messing up and being forgiven. Show them grace, give them order, hold them accountable.

Parenting is hard. Parenting sometimes sucks. But parenting is also very worth it.

 

 

 

Vacation

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We took a vacation, a road trip to see family in California and Arizona. It was LONG, it was fun, and the memories made were well worth it.

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Our Miss D’s (Nana) suitcase fell out of the cargo shell onto a very busy highway about here. Cabazon…115 degrees, SUPER windy, hence the windmills. Long story but her poor suitcase got shredded and it’s contents scattered all over the busy four lane highway. It wasn’t until some sensible drivers moved over that we were able to retrieve her belongings. Up until then I was at the mercy of the wind made by the speeding vehicles to blow her clothes my way.

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Family tradition, the Cabazon Dinosaurs. Since I was a little girl we have taken pictures here. Now all six of our kids have been here.

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Huntington Beach…never seen this young gent so happy!! Seriously. The beach was a hit for sure. If I could bottle it up for him I would.

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Tried new coffee. It gave Hubby and I a few minutes alone. Grateful for even mini-dates.

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Went to La Brea Tar Pits. I hadn’t been there since like fifth grade. Lots of fun. Very informative, which I eat up. The kids had fun spending some Christmas money at the gift shop too.

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IMG_2063Los Angeles, CA traffic!! No thank you.

 

IMG_2072Can’t tell you how much we all needed this little guy to nap and nap long.

IMG_2073Cousins and one uncle.

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Family in Arizona. Good times. So blessed to have a family who not only accepts our kids but sees passed their skin color and their past. Everyone of our family members has been so good to our kids. God is SO good.

ADHD + PTSD

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This sums up what living with and living with a child or two with ADHD looks like.

Peaceful? Not exactly. More like so exhausting you end up crashing on the floor. God knows I have left my heavily exhausted body imprinted on the floor many times. (Thank God for vacuums. They take away the evidence in seconds.)

Before our ninos came into our lives, and even awhile afterward, Hubby and I held onto the notion that ADHD was more of a lack of good parenting than organic, something “real”. Yes, they were hyper. Yes, they were impulsive, very impulsive. Yes, they were forgetful. Yes, they were…but we chalked it up to the neglect and trauma they had suffered through. It wasn’t until our 9-year-old (7 at the time) REALLY struggled in every area in school and our 13-year-old (11 at the time) had way too many signs that we had them tested. We had them tested for a number of things. Both came back with ADHD. Now our 13-year-old is NOT hyper at all. He is the quiet, mellow one in the bunch, but boy was he fidgety. He also had these “ticks” (before meds).

Fast forward to the present. After trying various different natural remedies, diet changes, and behavioral management techniques without seeing the change we needed we made the decision to put both boys on medicine for ADHD/PTSD. He started out being treated for symptoms of PTSD, without results. So we tried the ADHD route. This seemed to work great. Now he will tell you he can’t feel or tell if the medicine makes any difference. At all! More on this in a minute. Mr. Bubblewrap started out with ADHD meds with great results. He still forgets, is still impulsive, still pretty active, but it is now much more manageable. We ended up having to put him on PTSD meds as well. We call these his emo pills.

We are still doing behavior management and try natural remedies. These we would more than likely be doing with or without ADHD present in our lives. Our hope and goal is to eventually do away with the meds all together, especially for the PTSD. For now, this is where we are.

For now, we still remind, we still say focus a lot. We have also added a 20 min quiet time for Mr. Bubblewrap after school. This is not a punishment but a measure of prevention. He can have this alone time, quiet time to regroup, gather his thoughts, etc. before joining the family. It has really helped him make that transition from school to home life. He has even started setting the timer and putting himself in quiet time without being told. If you are familiar with kids with ADHD then you know this is huge. We also have him nap on weekends. He doesn’t have to sleep just have quiet time.

For this color coordinated closet organized mama, kids with such forgetful, disorganized behaviors have been hard. This level of unorganized lives doesn’t make sense to me. However, I too am learning, am adjusting, and doing what I can to help our kids. While ADHD type of behavior can be caused by the lack of good parenting, I am much less judgmental and have come to grips that for now the kids, heck, we need that extra help the medicine provides us.

Meet Robert

In my email, I often receive articles from adoption agencies, periodical emails from such agencies many of which I signed up for back when we were still looking for kids who’d be a good fit and every now and then emails featuring individual kids in need of a forever home. Two days ago this special delivery arrived.

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Here’s a naturally curious and thoughtful kid, with an interest in nearly everything. Despite his rough start in life and the challenges he faces, as a result, Robert remains a hopeful 12-year-old. In fact, he’s so determined to find a forever family, he requested copies of his Heart Gallery photo so he could pass them out to nice people he meets. He’s open to any kind of parent and would benefit from a nurturing family patient with his shy and quiet demeanor. Please help Robert in his quest to find a family and share his Heart Gallery profile with your friends- and anyone nice you meet!

“I love building things.” says Robert.

Robert has a real talent for working with his hands. He takes pride in making things for the people he loves the most and thinks it would be cool to be a craftsman when he grows up. He’s a naturally curious and thoughtful kid, with an interest in nearly everything. Just like every boy his age, he loves playing outside too. Despite Robert’s rough start in life and the challenges he faces, as a result, Robert remains a hopeful 12-year-old.

Robert is open to any kind of parent and would benefit from a nurturing family who will be patient with his shy and quiet demeanor. Robert wants to succeed in all he does and hopes to find a forever family who will encourage him to do just that.

https://heartgallerytampa.org/our-kids/robert/

Did you catch that? In fact, he’s so determined to find a forever family, he requested copies of his Heart Gallery photo so he could pass them out to nice people he meets. I have a 13 and 12-year-old and I can’t imagine them passing out photos to nice people. If things were a bit different in our home life, we would totally inquire about this young man. It was God who put the desire to adopt in my heart. God who changed Hubby’s heart. God who brought our four into our lives. And while we think we are done, I always say it will have to be God to tell us to adopt again. I have felt the urge to add another child every now and then, but for the most part, we fell done, (overwhelmed to be more accurate). But I remain open to God’s will. Who knows?

For now, we are on hold. BUT how about you? Do you have room in your home and heart for this young man? Can you at least spread the word about Robert?

An Epiphany

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I have been working on a post about how we do chores. It is written and finished, BUT it is so very long. So while I am figuring out how to shorten it I want to share this something with you all.

We have pulled a Donald Trump and fired our 9-year-old. For the sake of the emotional well-being of our home, we fired him from the dishes. You see while he is very capable of doing them he gets so deregulated that he really isn’t capable of doing them. While he did just great last year, this year is a completely different story.

99% of the time when it is his turn to do the dishes he gets so emotional that it isn’t worth it. He gets upset, mom gets upset, dad gets upset, etc. The older kids had no problem taking over his slot.

No regulating tricks have work, no strategies have worked, no “just suck it up and do the dishes” have worked. So for now, maybe for awhile, he isn’t doing the dishes.

The epiphany…physical or even cognitive capability isn’t what we need to measure. The ability to be emotionally capable is.