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.

A Little Secret

Can I tell you a little secret?

Something about a little indulgence of mine?

Well here it is, I have this love for hand soaps. I tell you everytime I go to Burkes or any place that sells fancier soaps than WalMart I have got to check out their hand soap selection. Now I am not a germ freak, though I do love clean hands. It’s just this little not quite obsession that I have with pretty, fresh smelling sink items.

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To me, a nice little soap bottle (while the one on the far right is not pretty it works and smells great!) can dress up a sink for just a few dollars. I generally don’t refill the bottles. This is where the germs get me. Yes, I do wash the bottles themselves too.

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Shhh…when visiting someone’s home I will sometimes sneak a peek and sniff at their hand soaps. I know weird, right? Otherwise, I am a private person and don’t look in medicine cabinets and stuff.

Before Pinterest​

I think we need a new way of dating history.

We have BC=Before Christ and AD=After Death. However, I think it’s time to add BP & AP. You know, Before Pinterest and After Pinterest.

All joking aside, so much of our lives are really based on what we see and pin on Pinterest.

*Our meals and how we photograph them and of course post them to social media. More and more our meals are from Pinterest, the iPad up and open while making dinner.

*Our photo shoots. I tell you, I have a pinboard just for photo shoots for large families.

*Hairstyles, Home organization, Quotes, traveling with kids, furniture, crafts, hunting, plumbing, gardening…

*I even have pin boards on Camping…I really don’t even like to camp! Then there’s a board all about pallets. Will I ever use it? Probably not.

While these and most of my pin boards have been more than helpful, let’s talk about where Pinterest can raise the bar too high.

How did us mommas throw a birthday party for our kids before Pinterest? How did we manage to cook a decent meal for our family? How did we know how to decorate our homes?

I raised our older two kids pretty much BP. Their birthday parties were based on our budget and imagination. Our younger four are AP. I have to be honest with you I feel the pressure to provide a Pinterest-worthy party each time. Maybe it’s just me.

Our home and it’s decor, again for many, many years was based on our budget and creative imagination. While there are a lot of DIY on Pinterest, there is also a bar that has been raised on how our homes need to look. If you can’t afford it or just aren’t a good DIYer then your home well not be Pinterest-worthy.

Again, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so, we need to use Pinterest as a tool and not a standard.

 

Boom Chicka

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(This is not a paid endorsement.)

If you have ever tasted Boom Chicka Pop’s Kettle Corn, you know the meaning of the word addiction. I can’t buy them…I will eat the whole bag!

BUT I did buy this. I mean how could it be bad. It has all the key ingredients, such as dark chocolate, sea salt, and kettle corn! Plus the bag has all of those “good for you” labels.

Sadly the new popcorn trend failed to satisfy. It was a bit on the weird, too sweet side of food. Three members of our house like the concoction. For me, I will stay with the occasional bag of their regular kettle corn.

Gratitude

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We just got done with a series on Gratitude at our church. What an eye opener, a heart changer.

Gratitude…while on the surface I may seem like a thankful person, just peek under that surface and you’ll see just how much of a struggle it can be for me to truly be grateful.

One statement our pastor said stood out to me. It was this: “We don’t need to be grateful for the bad things that happen. We need to be grateful despite them.”

During the Sunday School series, I was challenged to start a journal of what I am grateful for. It took me a bit to actually do it, but once I started I had to limit myself to only write around ten a day. This is a pretty flexible goal and I haven’t written every day.

Added #47 today, which reads: “When plumbers show up earlier than expected. *When your toilet is clogged it is NEVER too early.” Can we all give a shout out to plumbers?! I tell you it was a chore to get anyone just to come by the afternoon. Everyone so super booked.

A few other random things I have written down are: Telephones, Birds, Indoor plumbing, My hubby, Our older kids who help watch the younger ones.

While I have only begun this gratefulness journey I have already begun to catch things that I can be, should be, and am grateful for. I am becoming more aware of the good things, no matter how small, in my life. I am hoping that this process doesn’t stay on paper hidden in my journal, but spills out into real life and I truly live with a grateful heart and attitude. The benefits are way too many to not be grateful.

What are you grateful for? Do you keep a journal of the things you are grateful for? If you do please share. I’d love to hear.

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.