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.

 

 

 

19 Years Ago

19 years ago God blessed us with a son. During his birth, he got stuck. I stopped pushing and spoke in tongues then he greeted the world blue and in need of assistance. After 18 hours incubated in oxygen and having fluid sucked out of his lungs, I got to hold him. Got to look deep into his eyes, breathe him in. He was mine. All thumb sucking, drooling sweet disposition was mine.j-18i

All-in-all he was an easy baby and child. Only a few rough teen years. However, through prayer and consistency, we got through it. He Gave his life to Jesus and is such a wonderful young man.DSCN6941IMG_1070redo

He and his oldest sister always have had a close relationship. He has always had a funny sense of humor.scan005900898_04

A natural gentleman.Kids' own pics 4-28-08 01310425172_10203572688390440_6389493670496607464_n

Always had a way with animals, not matter how big or small. He seemed to always have “pet” bugs of some sort.scan0005

SUPER talented. He can draw, play instruments, act…his imagination knows no end.IMG_0994

When we made the decision to adopt we knew this is who he’d be. We knew he would be the best big brother to each and every child we added to our lives.IMG_0454

He is a very healthy eater. Not one for sweets.IMG_0722

Born part fish, he was either playing in dirt or swimming.Jared pool 6-24-08 021Jared making mines 6-13-08 008

This boy, this young man has brought so much joy into our lives. We are so proud of him, the choices he makes, the stands he has taken, and the person he has become. It is an honor to be called his mom.scan0004

My Little Helper

Love the toddler age, when chores are more fun than work. The General is in that stage. Loving his help and him getting independent. Whether it’s helping me with the laundry or attempting to make his own microwave oatmeal, cooling it off in the freezer or emptying the sweeper/vacuum he really loves to help. He amazes me all of the time.

An Epiphany

IMG_1844

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.

Mama Broke

So, a couple of weeks ago, I snapped. I blew up. Let me set the stage.

I woke from a fitful afternoon nap to find Hubby, Nana, and Mr. Bubblewrap at the kitchen counter. Hubby casually said something to Mr. Bubblewrap about putting away the camera. That is when I half woke up. Woke up in a fit of such frustration that I lost it. I didn’t throw things or hit anyone. But my words…ouch! I really wish I could take them back. But like toothpaste, once it is out you can’t put it back in.

You see, our eldest daughter just gave me the camera (this is not a point and shoot camera either) the night before. I had set it on the far end of the counter to check it out myself and then put away when I got a minute. BUT my trigger got tripped. Ever since our ninos came they have been learning personal space. They knew no boundaries. Everything was fair game. I have even had feminine needs pulled out of my purse by one of the children. Mr. Bubblewrap is also nine and is not the most gentle of persons when handling items.

My tolerance levels had been building and building, or should I say filling and filling. I do NOT like to micromanage at all. It stresses me out more than most things. For me, trying to find a way to raise kids with as little micromanaging as possible has been a task ever since I became a mom. Getting kids from foster care amplifies that need to micromanage, to teach, to get them caught up. It seems at times it is teaching, redirecting, disciplining, more redirecting, etc. non-stop. This was one of those seasons. And something had to give. Unfortunately, it was me that broke. Broke in a wrong way.

One of the main sources of micromanaging had become the chores. For our ninos, chores were something they were not raised with. (That could be a whole other post.) I was constantly reminding them to do their chores, asking them if they did this or that. Each time met with an eye roll at best. Then there’s checking to make sure the job was done right. Times that by at least three kids and it gets taxing.

After cooling off and asking for forgiveness, especially with Hubby, Hubby and I had a private meeting in our bathroom. I tell you our bathroom has been a sanctuary for me, a place for meetings, etc. It is really a great place. LOL! Anyway, we came up with a new chore system. It goes along with our “tic mark” system. More on these systems in a later post.

So far the new system has helped. We also had a family meeting to lay out some more guidelines and remind the kids of some we already had in place. I also, besides praying, opened up to a sister in church about my outbursts. We briefly talked and it helped just to be open with someone, another mom, who knew me and could understand.

As always, when I replay the situations in my head I react better. In this case, I could’ve/probably should’ve done this: Upon hearing and seeing son with the camera kindly taken it from him and told him in a calm voice, “You know I feel really disrespected, violated (whatever adjective fit) right now. But for the sack of our relationship, I am going to choose to let this one go.” Then walk away with my camera in hand. Then in private talk to Hubby about how the whole thing affected me.

Whether or not that would’ve worked I don’t know, but I would’ve felt better about myself.