Saturday, January 30, 2016

Happy 10 Year Foster-versary to Us!

So we got this yesterday:


Ten years ago this month we became licensed foster care providers.  We decided to renew our license for a tenth year not so much because we are in a hurry for another placement or to adopt again- quite the contrary- it would be so much easier NOT to foster anymore because our lives are busy enough and our home is crowded enough with just our own three children.

We renewed our license because we know there is a great need for foster homes and we have room for another child. That's it.

I love this quote by William Wilberforce:


[Amazing Grace is one of my husband's favorite movies and it has a great soundtrack, too.]

This past decade has definitely had it's share of heartaches and frustrations but we have also had moments of joy and tremendous growth and learning.





Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Grief and The Good Dinosaur

On New Year's Day we saw the movie The Good Dinosaur.  All I knew about this movie before seeing it is that our oldest daughter wanted to see it, it was about dinosaurs, and that it was the newest Disney-Pixar release.  I had no idea that The Good Dinosaur contained adoption-related themes until I noticed that a few scenes and characters stirred up some very intense feelings of "longing" and loss inside of me.  I'll go into a little more detail later, but suffice it to say, the longing and yearning I was feeling were definitely emotions related to grief.

Incidentally, the animated scenery in The Good Dinosaur also made me want to take a vacation in the mountainous Teton Valley of Idaho and Wyoming.


I also recently attended a training where I was reminded that grief is not always just "sadness".  Grief can also be anger, denial, bargaining, and to use a few other terms not used by Elisabeth Kubler Ross which probably fit under the "anger" category- feeling resentful or bitter.  I mention this because along with my feelings of longing and sadness while watching the movie I found myself feeling a bit bitter and angry.  These are also feelings of grief, just a slightly different stage.  Here's what stirred these feelings up within me and please be advised for SPOILER ALERTS.

The main character in The Good Dinosaur (hence the name of the movie) is Arlo.  Arlo is a somewhat timid but down-to-earth dinosaur who eventually befriends a little orphaned cave boy despite an initially adversarial relationship.  The little cave boy is more dog-like than human and thus has the fitting name of "Spot". 



Arlo and Spot are both orphaned or separated from their families (at least temporarily in Arlo's case). I can definitely see how an adopted child- whether still a child or an adult- could relate to Spot's character and how this movie could trigger feelings of grief, separation, and loss- especially if someone were adopted at an older age after knowing their first family (whether that first family be actual biological family, a foster family, or workers and other children from an orphanage or institution).  

One of the most poignant scenes is when Spot and Arlo grieve together about the loss of their families:



The character I personally related to the most in The Good Dinosaur was Arlo because of the fact that he took Spot under his proverbial wing and eventually had to "let him go".  Sound familiar to foster parents or birth parents?

I have to admit, it was really hard for me to watch Arlo let Spot go live with another cave family rather than stay with Arlo and his family- primarily because they were Spot's "people" and Arlo's family was not.  After all, dinosaurs and humans are different species.  But it could still work, right?! This could certainly bring up some interesting points for discussion about what makes a family- does a family who share the same genes or race (or in this case, the same species) trump a family who doesn't share the same biology or race of a child?  

At one point in the movie as Arlo and Spot are traveling to Arlo's home together after a very long journey there is a howling sound in the distance.  Spot's ears perk up since it sounds familiar to his own howling.  Arlo spots the source of the howling- a cave man in the distance- but doesn't let Spot know what he sees and he just continues on.  [Enter DENIAL].  In fact, Arlo gets a really annoyed look on his face before continuing on his journey.  That's the scene which brought up the most resentment and bitterness inside of me.  

I can't say for sure what was going through Arlo's mind at that moment, but if I could accurately read his mind (and I'm totally projecting my own feelings as a foster parent and recalling when I had to say goodbye to one of our former foster children who was transferred to the care of relatives after she had been in our home for nearly a year and it was no longer an option for her to return to the care of her bioparents) I think he would be thinking something like this:

"Oh- so you're ready to take him NOW?  What makes you think he's better off with you?  Where were you when he first needed someone to take care of him?  He's just fine where he's at.  I'm the one who's been taking care of him all this time- look at all that we've been through together- and you expect me to casually hand him over to you like it's no big deal?"  

Yep- very familiar feelings.  But then I have to remind myself, yet again- that foster care isn't for ME- it's for the children.  It's about giving a family another chance to stay together even when you watch their child thrive in your own home and in your own family and even when (this is the most frustrating part) reunification may not actually be in the child's best interest.

Sometimes reunifications or placements with kin do work out- don't get me wrong.  Such was the case with the foster child I referred to who was adopted by a relative into a safe and loving home.  In those cases you don't have to constantly worry about the child's welfare, but you can rejoice with the reunion or new union (if the child isn't familiar with their relatives) while simultaneously grieving for the loss of that child as part of your family.

When you look at things from a child-centered perspective rather than your own biases and judgments, everyone in the child's life plays a supporting role rather than a competing role because love doesn't have to be divided up but can be shared and expanded.

As painful as it was, Arlo eventually let Spot go to his new family and they welcomed him with love.
It was a beautiful scene and for a moment I let my anger subside and rather than relating to Arlo's character I found myself relating to Spot's new family welcoming a new child into their family with wonder and a bit of curiosity and speculation, but most of all with LOVE.



Speaking of adoption-related movies, check out this blog, Adoption at the Movies, which contains adoption-related movie reviews written by an LCSW who works in the field of foster adoption!

On another related note, I'm looking forward to seeing Kung-Fu Panda 3! I laughed after seeing a preview which shows Po looking for his birth father and an older-looking panda with an uncanny resemblance to Po announcing that he's looking for his birth son.  Both Pandas seem initially intrigued with each other and pause for a moment before dismissing any possibilities.  Meanwhile, everyone around them witnessing the scene is face-palming or sighing at the obvious before Po and his birth father make the connection and reunite.

As much as I'm looking forward to seeing Kung Fu Panda 3, I'm also slightly worried that our oldest daughter will ask more questions about her birth father when she sees KFP3 as she did a year or so ago after watching an episode of Disney's Jessie, in which the character Luke, wants to know more about his early life since he was adopted as a young child.  Don't get me wrong- the problem is not that my daughter will ask questions about her birth father, that's to be expected- the problem is that we honestly don't have a lot of info about him (by his choice).  At least our other two children have pictures of themselves with their birth father, and we can tell them what we know and remember about him when they ask, but how can you answer someone's questions when you don't have the answers?

Adoption can be wonderful but there is also so much grief and loss that needs to be acknowledged by all members of the adoption triad.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Graceful Reunification

I came across THIS PHOTO a couple of weeks ago on Facebook:


My first thought was "Wait a minute . . . This isn't like the other pictures I've seen with one or more grinning children holding up a sign announcing that today they were adopted after being in foster care for 561 days."

(561 isn't a random number but happens to be the number of days that Jack & Jill were in our home before we adopted them)

My second thought was "Is it just me or does that birth mom look like she's 15 years old?"  Maybe I'm just feeling old. ;)

Now here's the STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO as written by Lindsay, the gracious foster mom from West Virginia:



I applaud Lindsay and her family for their selflessness and grace at reunification time.  Reunifications are tough and this family will most definitely continue to grieve the loss of their foster daughter.  

On a related note:


Kudos to this foster family for helping another family stay together and for giving the mother of their foster daughter another chance.

May this sweet baby's mother, Keisha, have all the support she needs to stay sober and continue to parent.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Impressions from a Foster Parent on John DeGarmo's Fostering Love

While reading and reviewing Fostering Love I came up with twelve points that stood out to me- observations, if you will.  

I wrote about the first five of these observations in my previous post but I decided to save the remaining observations for a separate post not only for the sake of space, but because these particular points brought up many familiar feelings and memories for me personally as a foster parent.

The following are observations which pretty much any foster parent should be familiar with (or at least reminded of):

6) Sometimes "the call" from DCFS doesn't necessarily come at the most convenient times.

7)  Welcoming another child into your home requires a lot of shuffling around and rearranging- not just of schedules and personal space but of sleeping (bedroom) arrangements.

8)  Although required visits between foster children and their birthparents and the relationships between a child's birthparents and their foster family are not always easy to navigate, it is imperative that birth parents and foster families put the needs of their children/foster children as a top priority and treat the child's "other" family with the respect accorded to them.

9)  It's not a foster parent's place to judge the birthparents and families of their foster children  


10)  Don't blame caseworkers for a judge's decision or ruling.

11)  Good legal representation and volunteer CASAs can make all the difference in speaking up for a foster child's rights.

12) It's okay- even necessary- to take a break from fostering when needed.

For an elaboration on each of these observations keep reading:

6)  Sometimes "the call" from DCFS doesn't necessarily come at the most convenient times.

Like, say, five days before Christmas or when your spouse is away on a business trip, or when you're not quite fully recovered from a surgery.  My husband and I have a joke that if he goes out of town for work then we’ll get a placement call from DCFS because it’s happened to us- more than once.

 I laughed when I read this sentence in Chapter 11:

"It was time to take a little break from fostering, and recharge our batteries"

which was followed immediately by this sentence at the beginning of the next paragraph:

"The call came again Tuesday night, the third week of September."

7)  Welcoming another child into your home requires a lot of shuffling around and rearranging- not just of schedules and personal space but of sleeping (bedroom) arrangements.

When the DeGarmos took their first foster placement they had recently moved into a new home and their bedroom arrangements were such that each of their children had their own room. Their youngest child, a 3 year old boy, had the largest bedroom in the house so when the DeGarmos took their first foster placement of a sibling group of a 4 year old girl and her 6 month old baby sister, the 4 year old shared the large bedroom with the DeGarmo's son and the baby slept in a crib in John and Kelly's bedroom.

Unfortunately, the former sleeping arrangement would be against the licensing regulations in my state as children of the opposite sex are not allowed to share a bedroom unless they are younger than two years old.

I admit that when we first started the licensing process, finding available bedroom space in our home was the least of our worries as we were a childless couple who had recently purchased our first home with bedrooms just waiting to be filled with children.  Almost a decade and three permanent children later, finding appropriate bedroom space for any potential foster or adoptive placements has become a bit trickier for various logistical and licensing reasons.

Technically speaking, we could turn my husband's den into a bedroom for one of our own children, if necessary, because it's big enough to comfortably house a child and has plenty of closet space. However, we wouldn't be able to use my husband's den as a bedroom for a foster child because it doesn't have a window and therefore, no source of natural light or an accessibility for escape in case of emergencies.

So yeah- shifting bedrooms and children around like musical chairs to suddenly accommodate one or more children can be a potentially tricky situation to work around for foster families.  On the other hand, bunk beds, trundle beds, or loft beds seem like a very practical space-saving solution for any family who suddenly needs more bedroom space.

8)  Although required visits between foster children and their birthparents and the relationships between a child's birthparents and their foster family are not always easy to navigate, it is imperative that birth parents and foster families put the needs of their children/foster children as a top priority and treat the child's "other" family with the respect accorded to them.

I was pretty much disgusted (but not necessarily shocked) with the immaturity of the birth parents of the DeGarmo's first foster placement.  Not only did these birth parents immediately find fault with the DeGarmos and their parenting but they told their children at their weekly visits, "Your foster parents are bad people who don't love you."

It's inevitable that some birth families are bound to become jealous or overly critical of their child's foster family or anyone who is involved in any part of the investigative or removal process when children are taken out of a home and placed with a family of complete strangers- whether that be law enforcement, social workers, judges, etc.- But in what way, shape, or form does it help the situation- or make the transition for the children involved any less traumatic and less confusing than it already is- to tell the children that the very people who are now caring for them can't be trusted?

Perhaps the worst experience Kelly had with this particular set of birth parents was when they not only yelled at her as she was buckling their children into the car after a weekly visit but they attempted to follow her home.  Fortunately, she lost them in busy traffic.

Another parent of John and Kelly’s foster children wrote them a letter telling them how they could be better parents to her children, even going so far as to list all of the things they were doing wrong.  Wow.  Now tell me again which parent had their child court-ordered to be removed from their care?

John also experienced his share of experiences with birth parents when he was spit upon by a foster child’s mother during a meeting.  He handled it incredibly well and graciously.

I have been very fortunate that the majority of our interactions with the families of our foster children have been civil and I would even characterize some of our relationships as "good".   I felt particularly close to one of our foster daughter's mothers and I think it's because we both recognized our shared love for Rose and felt secure enough in our roles in her life that we didn't feel the need to "compete" with each other.

9)  It's not a foster parent's place to judge the birthparents and families of their foster children.

Yep.  There have been other times when I was initially, quite frankly, afraid to meet the birth families or caretakers of some of the children we've fostered when I learned of their backgrounds or the allegations involving their children.  However, I have discovered that much of the time the birth parents of our foster children end up appearing as equally afraid to meet me (or rather, afraid of me passing judgment on them) as I am to meet them. Funny how that works.  Needless to say, old-fashioned and time-tested courtesy goes a long way in diffusing some of that initial tension.

10) Don't blame caseworkers for a judge's decision or ruling.

At one point in the book the DeGarmos received word that the mother of their ten month old foster daughter (whom had been in their care since she was a newborn) had decided to give custody of her child to a 23 year old friend who worked two jobs.  After doing more investigating about their foster daughter’s potential new placement, John discovered some additional facts about the 23 year old woman’s boyfriend which were of huge concern to him.  Consequently, John found himself arguing with the caseworker about what was in his foster daughter’s best interest.

The caseworker’s response to John’s valid concerns was very telling:

“I understand, John, but sometimes these things are out of our control,” Nancy answered.  “We can only give the judge the information, and he will make the final decision.  Nothing is decided just yet.”

I’ve been to court hearings of my foster children where it wasn’t just me who was left dumbfounded by a judge’s decision- but their caseworker and even the children’s Guardian ad Liteum were left scratching their heads and thinking, “Seriously?” when the judge came to a final decision.

11)  Good legal representation and volunteer CASAs can make all the difference in speaking up for a foster child's rights.

At a particularly tense court hearing regarding the DeGarmo’s same foster child mentioned above, a dedicated CASA worker presented the judge with some crucial information which served as a pivotal turning point in deciding the child’s future.

I won’t tell you what happened but I will quote from the book because sometimes things do have a happy ending, justice is served, and the people who work behind the scenes or without much recognition are appreciated:

“After a few more questions, the judge then asked the casa worker if she would like to offer her opinion on the matter.  Casa workers are those individuals who act as advocates for the foster child, and are strictly volunteers.  Fortunately for us, Mariah’s casa worker, Joan, was deeply interested in our baby Mariah’s well being, and had not only visited with us often, she had apparently done some investigating on her own, uncovering some information that was vital to the future of this precious child, as we were all about to find out.”

A couple pages later the judge recounts:

“I wish to thank all who came and testified in behalf of this little child. Thank you, Joan, for all the work you have done as a casa worker.  Your contributions have been important, and I appreciate the fact that you have volunteered many hours on behalf of Mariah.  I also want to thank those of you who work at DCFS; your job is often very difficult and may even seem unrewarding at times.  Your service to these children is vital, though, and so very important.”

12) It's okay- even necessary- to take a break from fostering when needed.

John’s wife Kelly wisely suggested that their family take some time off from fostering and focus on their own children after taking a placement which was originally only supposed to last for a weekend but turned into a year and a half.  The DeGarmos consequently waited another year until they took their next placement- a drug-addicted baby girl who ended up changing their lives.

I might also add that during John and Kelly’s time taking a break from fostering they were both able to continue working on graduate degrees, to actively volunteer in their church, and Kelly was able to build her own business as a massage therapist.  Although taking a break can allow foster parents to focus on their own children, it can also make it possible for foster parents to pursue other worthwhile endeavors or focus on things they may not have otherwise been able to do quite as easily with the added responsibilities that fostering brings to a family.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review: Dr. John DeGarmo's Fostering Love- (Part 1)

I recently read Dr. John DeGarmo's book, Fostering Love: One Foster Parent's Journey, which is an autobiographical account of his first nine years as a foster parent.  The chronological sequel to Fostering Love is Love and Mayhem which I happened to review in a recent post.

Although I read and have reviewed each book out of chronological order, the good news is that it is very possible for readers to read Love and Mayhem without ever having previously read Fostering Love.

Here are some of the key points I read in Fostering Love which stood out to me personally:


1) John and his wife, Kelly, were not initially both "on the same page" when the topic of adoption or fostering was first brought up in their marriage.

2)  The DeGarmo's children were relatively young (ages 6, 5, and 3) when their family first started fostering.  Yet each of the children were all very excited about the prospect of welcoming additional children into their home and adjusted to such changes remarkably well.

3) There are some things that children shouldn't have to deal with or be led to believe- as the DeGarmo's foster children did.

4)  The only predictable part of fostering is unpredictability.

5)  Many people feel "called" to foster.

As a foster parent, reading about the DeGarmo's first fostering experiences reminded me that:

6)  Sometimes "the call" from DCFS doesn't necessarily come at the most convenient times.

7)  Welcoming another child into your home requires a lot of shuffling around and rearranging- not just of schedules and personal space but of sleeping (bedroom) arrangements.

8)  Although required visits between foster children and their birthparents and the relationships between a child's birthparents and their foster family are not always easy to navigate, it is imperative that birth parents and foster families put the needs of their children/foster children as a top priority and treat the child's "other" family with the respect accorded to them.

9)  It's not a foster parent's place to judge the birthparents and families of their foster children  

10)  Don't blame caseworkers for a judge's decision or ruling.

11)  Good legal representation and volunteer CASAs can make all the difference in speaking up  for a foster child's rights.

12) It's okay- even necessary- to take a break from fostering when needed.

 For an elaboration on each of these observations see below:

1) John and his wife, Kelly, were not initially both "on the same page" when the topic of adoption or fostering was first brought up in their marriage . 

 One night after John had a somewhat eye-opening experience at work he asked his wife:

"Sweetheart, what would you think if we adopted a baby?"

We both had come to the same conclusion after Brody was born, we were done, no more babies in the house. However, I had been thinking a lot about the foster program.  I mentioned this to Kelly, but she was not interested.  "Maybe," she said.  We'll have to find out more about it and pray about it."

After the DeGarmo's third child was born he and his wife had come to the conclusion that they were "done" with babies in the house.  Furthermore, John stated that Kelly was not interested in the idea of fostering. This was one of the most reassuring and hopeful passages of the book for me to read.  

"Wait a minute- Huh?" some of you are probably thinking.  "They weren't in agreement . . . and one of them wasn't even interested.  In what way is that hopeful or reassuring to someone who advocates for foster care and adoption?" 

Well, I'm glad you were wondering- and I'll tell you exactly why this was so reassuring to me: In my personal experiences with adoption and fostering it took a couple years for my husband to warm up to the idea, which, in turn, led me to doubt and second-guess any initial promptings and feelings I had about the matter.  In our marriage (as I would hope would be the case with most partnerships) such a major decision needs to be unanimous but often one spouse or partner is more ready or eager than the other.

Through reading Love and Mayhem and other articles that John DeGarmo has written I knew that the DeGarmos have fostered over 45 children.  But until I read Fostering Love I had no idea that his wife's initial reaction to John's proposition of fostering was a simple "maybe".  After much thought and prayer, and acting upon it, look how much that one "maybe" changed their lives, not to mention affecting the lives of many children and their families!

I know that many times the inception of a life changing experience all starts with a simple thought in our mind or a desire of our heart.  It's choosing to act upon those thoughts and desires that makes all the difference.

2)  The DeGarmos children were relatively young (ages 6, 5, and 3) when their family first started fostering.  Yet each child was very excited about the prospect of welcoming additional children into their home and handled the transitions of welcoming and saying goodbye to their foster siblings remarkably well.

When I reviewed Love and Mayhem I mentioned how impressed I was with the DeGarmo's children's welcoming attitude towards the foster siblings who shared their home and their parent's attention.  I think that these children possessed an above average amount of maturity to even make it possible for their parents to consider doing foster care in the first place.

The reason I mention this is because I think there are probably more than a few families out there who have the desire to foster or adopt which is very commendable- but because of the needs or personalities of the children already in these homes, perhaps fostering or adopting isn't a good fit for these families.  If any of the DeGarmo's children had special needs which required extra attention or if they weren't all on board with the idea of bringing more children into their home, the results of fostering could have been disastrous for their family.

Another related scenario comes to mind: Maybe foster care or adoption is a credible prospect for a family's future but it's the timing that isn't right.  And do you know what?  That's okay.  I don't think families in either of these circumstances should feel guilty or discouraged about not being able to bring more children into their home.  Rather, I would hope these families focus their attention and love on the children already in their care.  Every child is a gift and parenting isn't a contest to see how many children one can "collect."

[Please note that the above mentioned advice is directed primarily towards myself!  I, for one, am in awe when I observe heads of large households who keep their families running like well-oiled and synchronized machinery.  Because I'm aware of the number of children in need of good foster and adoptive homes I tend to vacillate between feelings of GUILT for having room for one more child in our home and, therefore, an obligation to call up my RFC right away and tell him, "We're ready for another placement- Bring it on!"- to feelings of HESITANCY and CAUTION when I worry that because of the developmentally crucial and impressionable ages of our youngest children I should just focus all my efforts on meeting their needs before helping any other children or bringing any additional children into our home.

I think our oldest daughter would adjust well to having another foster sibling as she has many times in the past, but we've only had one foster placement since our two youngest children were adopted from foster care and it seemed to be particularly hard on our youngest child (perhaps because she was so close in age, the same gender, and similar in personality to the foster child we suddenly welcomed into our home without our youngest being able to prepare for or even process such a sudden change to our home life at her young age.  After all, she's only two years old and very comfortable in her role as "baby" of the family!]

3)   There are some things that children just shouldn't have to deal with or be led to believe- as the DeGarmo's foster children did.

Examples from the lives of some of the children the DeGarmos fostered which were related in Fostering Love include:

-Believing that police are the "bad guys".  One of the DeGarmo's first placements was a 4 year old girl who became overcome with terror when there was a siren approaching.  When John and Kelly tried to comfort their foster daughter they learned that the little girl's mother had trained her to fear and hide from police authorities even going so far as to give her a knife and hide for protection.

Unfortunately, fearing law enforcement or viewing them as the "bad guys" is not an uncommon belief among many foster youth- especially if their parents are involved in drugs, gang, or simply negligent behaviors.

-Being "returned" to the state by your adoptive parents- not just once but three times by three different adoptive parents.  Such was the tragic case of a teenage foster daughter of the DeGarmos who was originally from Romania and raised in an orphanage until she was adopted by a family in New York. After living with her first adoptive family for a year she was returned to the state only to be adopted by another family who "returned" her again.  The third family who adopted her returned her to foster care (is that even legal?) after she was in their care for six years.

I am not naive enough to assume that children who have been raised in orphanages or who come from neglected and abusive backgrounds will have no potential emotional or behavioral problems.  That is why adoption is a process that should not be entered into lightly and why caseworkers and effective adoption professionals not only stress education and training for prospective adoptive parents but should be required to give full disclosure on a child's background including, if possible, the child's birthparent's background and health history so that the adoptive family can be prepared to meet any special needs of a new child joining their family.

Adoption is not just picking out a cute puppy from a pet store and then selling the dog after it grows out of it's cute stage or when you're sick of cleaning up poop.  Like marriage, it is a commitment to stick with someone through good times and bad times.  The purpose of adopting or fostering a child is not to "add" to your family but to give your family to a child.

-Being left to fend for yourself and eat microwaveable hot dogs for every meal.

When giving the DeGarmos some background about a new placement, the caseworker reported that this particular little girl had "fed herself hot dogs from the microwave for pretty much every meal" as her alcoholic grandmother who was her caregiver was usually too hungover to meet her granddaughter's needs.

-Suffering from cigarette burns not just on your arms and scalp but on your tongue as well.


What's most disturbing about those injuries inflicted upon one of the DeGarmo's four year old foster sons is that he believed it was a normal result for him "getting into trouble" with this mommy.

4)  The only predictable part of fostering is unpredictability.

When the DeGarmos got the call for one of their first foster placements they were told that it would "probably just be for the weekend" until relatives could take the child.  That particular foster child ended up staying with them for nearly a year and a half.  Enough said.
  
5)  Many people feel "called" to foster.

In the last couple of paragraphs of Fostering Love John DeGarmo beautifully sums up  how he feels that fostering is a call from God for his family:

". . . At times, I don't want to foster.  There are moments when I want to hide from the added responsibilities of having more children in the house;needy children, hurt children, sad children. There are mornings where I wish I could just get a bit more rest, sleepwalking through the days.  I was tired of having my heart broken again and again as I watched a child leave my home only to be returned to an environment that was unpleasant, unhealthy, and even hostile.

     Yet, there are so many children who need a foster home and so few homes willing to embrace them.  Fostering is a call, and God's call on our family is clear.  He wants Kelly and I to take up this cross of His and look after His children."

I have heard many other foster families express similar sentiments about fostering:  No, it's not an easy thing to do, but God is using such families to be His hands.

Part 2 of this book review to be continued . . .