Category Archives: Special Needs Children

You Never Know Who You Are Sitting Next To……

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I recently attended an amazing conference in Savannah with some of the most wonderful women I have ever met.  All of us in business for ourselves, Lady Bosses if you will.  Although I am my own boss, I sometimes wonder what my coaching clients really want to hear and what client is in need of my knowledge to help them clarify their why, what and where.

I speak a lot about adoption and fostering, but have not thought there would be a huge demand for life coaching in this area.  Well, maybe I am wrong about that.

In the last hour of this wonderful weekend I started chatting to another of my fellow life coaches.  She asked a few questions and then suddenly I found she wanted, needed, information that I knew and could easily help her with.

Adoption!!!!!!

How Do I Start?

Where Do I Start?

Then the really big question, the one I always get…….

I’M AFRAID!!

Well I can tell you I was too!!  It seemed like a scary journey, and overwhelm set in more than once.  I can remember jumping from being excited, to feeling like this was too much uncertainty.  But, I got through all of it, and I learned so much about what I call “The Lost Children” on the way.

I can remember thinking I only want one or two and they would be this age, and preferably girls.

OMG!

REALLY!

Well that was the beginning of one hell of a ride!

One I never regret and one that made me a better person!

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Not everyone is called or feels the tug of adoption and less people are led to be a foster parent.  I was one of those.  I didn’t dream about this and when I did think I wanted to adopt, I never intended to be a foster parent.

That’s a whole other story!!!!

But, if you have thought about bringing a child into your home by adoption, or being a foster parent, I would love to talk to you.  I am going to do a series of videos that will be free to you, just add your email and I got you!!  I hope these will be informative.

Remember this,

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When Foster meets Biological

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I haven’t been in the system as a foster parent for several years, but, it doesn’t seem to stop teenagers in need of a place of respite from coming to my door.    When all of my family was much younger, it was pretty easy with most of the foster kids who came into care.

Of course, we had rules, which, of course, we broke often in an emergency.  Most of the rules I broke, I was blessed by.  But, there were rules we had for ages of foster children for a reason.  Good solid reasons, like teenage boys coming into a situation with teenage girls.  Not a good mix.

One of the primary rules we had, and mostly stuck too, was that our foster children needed to be younger that the permanent or biological kids in the house.  When we started that was easy, our youngest in the house were fifteen and sixteen.  But then our first boys, twins, came at twenty months old, and we had to start to think about who or what ages could come in and melt into the potluck, or God given, family that He was creating.

I have to say here, when our teenagers that were resident in the house were asked about bringing foster kids in, they were very reluctant.  They had the same arguments that I hear every time I talk about fostering.  “We will love them and they will leave!”  But, love, is exactly what all of the children coming into a foster care situation need.  Even if they have layers of PTSD, are angry, unloving and yell at you, they are the ones needing your love.

I can say without a doubt, there were times that children came into our home and were not a good mix.  I always trusted my instincts on that one, and made sure I collaborated with the caseworker to find them the appropriate placement.  Ah, the good old days.  I think it has changed a lot since then, but never give up finding a child the right placement.

We have always had a rule in our house about kids coming in.  It is simply this: “Father God, we will take anyone you send as long as they are not a problem to the ones we have.”  We have stuck to that rule.  In fact we had to put that rule into place just recently when a young man just out of his teens proved to be a serious problem to the family.  It is always heartbreaking when this happens, but when it is obvious and clear, protection of the ones that came first is imperative.

Our last desperate young man was seemingly without family at first glance and needing so much, but unfortunately he mistook kindness for stupidity.  Drugs, alcohol and deceptive behavior is not acceptable in our house.  If he, or anyone else, is honest and open to help, I am there, but denial is a part of addiction and not what I can have in my home with my children.

So, accept and believe, nurture and love, but keep your eyes open and understand what is beyond your ability to change or fix.

IGNITE YOUR PASSION_FIND YOUR PURPOSE

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The extras we are thankful God sent to our table,

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Thanksgiving is a day but it is also a word that means give thanks for everything and everyone.

I am not only thankful for my family but the “family” not related but know who are, and trust they can come and be accepted, loved, laugh, cry and be exactly who they are, warts and all, and not be judged.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, I was honored to have not only my amazing large exuberant loud family, but others who I feel like family and trust they can come in grief and sorrow, in loss, in rejection, and be loved and not expected to be anything but “RAW”.

They know who they are.  The young wife with two babies whose husband left, with her mom who has struggled through her own life and I am sure was totally in shock at the thought and experience of the Thompson family.  She didn’t leave, and although looked a bit shell shocked from time to time, did converse in the end.  Young wife had a blast, was gracious to ex when he showed with the children, and overall felt like she did not have to pretend.  RAW!

The next were precious friends who lost a husband and a dad, suddenly, and couldn’t face putting on a pretense for anyone.  They all were here together last year, and to come back and know their loved one’s spirit was here with us was hard, but they knew no matter what emotions they came with, they would be accepted.   We let them take the lead on that.

My grieving friends laughed, ate, talked, cried, remembered and were glad they came.  The were accepted just where they were, RAW.

Then there was the young man who lost his father too early, had led a troubled life, and has no real family as his mother is on the streets.  He came, ate heartily, sat by the fire pit with the others, was accepted, in spite of his past (not too good) and stayed until the end.  He felt accepted.  He came RAW, not expecting but spilled his heart to amazing hubby at midnight while we were cleaning up.  Not only up for being RAW, but feeling accepted enough to do that.

And just when we thought most were gone was the young mother of two who lives in an extended stay motel.  She knows my daughter through work and has not always done the right thing by a vulnerable teenager with her own issues.  But, she found herself at a church because she was desperate and invited the vulnerable teenager.  God at work.

It turns out they could not remember their last home cooked meal, and the children were enthralled with my piano which I taught them to revere, hold gently in their fingers and not bang, but love.  Their eyes were shining, their minds were open and hearts receptive.

They ate, they played my piano that I have had since I was seventeen, and their eyes were not just shining, they were hopeful, trusting and grateful.  And then the sad part.

There were a few, too vulnerable and not able to trust, who committed but couldn’t come.  Too RAW!.  They have built walls, large ones, that prevent happiness, love, and the biggest thing, being able to give out of themselves more than having to be stroked, cajoled and making others feel  responsible for their feelings.  The saddest and the hardest to help because they will not help themselves.

I hate that these miss the love, the family that is available, but that is the wall they choose to hide behind, the love they choose to miss, and all we can do when they are adults is love them and let them be. Allow them to be who they are and love them unconditionally without letting them own us and make us enter their sad world.  We pray and hope they can find their own path to happiness through loving God more than loving where they are.

But my own, my family, my twelve plus grands.  You are awesome, you accept, you love, you do not judge, you just roll with what happens and who comes.  You are my heart, and you give out of my heart and your own to those who need our love.  I’m blessed by you.

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The Night Before Thanksgiving when all goes awry!

 

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Woke early, tis the eve of Thanksgiving and there is so much cooking

Got breakfast, and washing, and toasted the GF bread for stuffing.

Final list on my phone, including Vet trip and medicine for the dog.

Got Brandy, egg nog and finally stopped.  Driving.  End of rhyming.

I couldn’t possibly  begin now to outline just what can happen in a house as full as mine when you really need to get some things out of the way before the great day.

I left before some were up including one that had a red patch on her calf last night which I was lead to believe was bite.  She is the one that attracts the very last mosquito and has welts from every attack of the flying creatures.

But then also on the menu for today was the seventeen year old who had a red “mole” grow suddenly on her butt, that had been removed the week before.  Call from the dermatologist and it is a dodgy “juvenile melanoma, not dangerous, but has some oddities.  More butt surgery for her at 2.30.

Rog takes the dermatologist and I take the pediatrician.  Noon, still no cooking.

Then child with butt surgery informs, which is a way of asking without getting a no, that she has eleven people over for a fire pit at five thirty and would like to learn to make an apple pie, to impress them of course.

So I go to the pediatrician who orders hot compresses, and medicine to be picked up of course, for the cellulitis that is now forming around an infection, commonly called a boil.  Of course she is so incapacitated that she needs my crutches from knee surgery.

Arrived home, now the home made apple pie which I realize if I don’t start peeling granny smith apples we will be here all day and she has to leave for surgery in less than an hour.  Well at least I bought the pastry crust otherwise we would have never got done.

Enlist the other nearly seventeen year old to help and as I go to empty the peelings into one of the three sinks in my amazing commercial kitchen which I need, I trip over the sleeping blind, or nearly blind dog and in an effort not to damage the post surgery knee, slam three fingers on my right hand into the edge of my most amazing granite counters.

I am dropped to my knees.  I am crying, no yelling crying, not even ugly, just howling from the pain in my fingers which feel like they are severed from my body let alone my hand.  It wasn’t until later I realized there was a big bump on the bone of my arm where I somehow slammed it.  But, my knee is fine.

So, the wonder of family here is, that although they all wanted to, and were sleeping on the couch, watching TV etc, the moment I got hurt, they all rallied.  Butt surgery child reprimanded her father for not acting fast enough, and got the ice pack.  Made me sit and fussed over me.  Rog watched on, somewhat in shock, because he had never heard me howl like that.  He’s outside right now making sure there is not a full moon.

So now with fat fingers, I directed the cooking and we made a flourless chocolate cake, excellent, scalloped potatoes, cornbread for the dressing, peeled and cut up all the butternut squash for the roasted brussels sprouts, squash, pecan and cranberry warm salad with maple syrup of course.  Thawed the turkey for stuffing, the other gets fried, the hunk of rib-eye, and cleaned everything after cooking and prep.  Just remembered to get out the salmon!!

So fat fingers, a stitched up butt, and a swollen impending boil, is just how we roll.  Thanksgiving will be just that.  Thankful for all of my family and the ones that surround it.  The ones that don’t have family like the kids around my fire pit who I am feeding pizza on the eve of Thanksgiving.  Tomorrow a mere 35 or so.

Be thankful guys,  even when it doesn’t quite go how you want it to.  Make lemonade!

I am not a perfect person, I pick up the

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Adoption…. Fostering……When the paperwork creates overwhelm

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I remember very well the first time I was handed that huge wad of paperwork.  Talk about overwhelm!   Where did I start?  Lots of things ran through my head.

Ah, how much do I want to do this?

Surely there is an easier way?

What if I don’t measure up?

Why are they talking about fostering?

I just want to adopt, OK?

What do you mean parenting classes?

And so on, and so on.  But, for me, for us, the call was greater than the paperwork.  And there is a ton.  Not for the feint of heart, but worth every minute of the process.

The fingerprints, the home study, all those questions about you and how you think, what you think, DO you think.

In my day, some eighteen odd years ago, and then again about eight years ago, it varied between agencies.  And those have changed now too.  There are a lot more private ones over your local Department Of Children’s Services where we first went for our first training.

And the support or should I say WHAT support?

It was no wonder that after the first class some dropped out until week ten and only the die-hards were left.  We were among them.  You see, we cried in the first session and it only became more heart wrenching after that.  If I didn’t come because I wanted to, I would have stayed because of the need that was before my eyes and my heart.

I can honestly say to all of you who are wondering if this journey is for you, you will never look back again at the world the same way.  You will be forever changed even if you never foster, you will now know.

You will be now be informed

Fostering is not on my horizon at the moment, I won’t say never because when I do, that becomes a challenge to God.  But, I do want to encourage those who have that small voice in their minds, and their hearts are breaking for a child, to be led into this magical, heartbreaking, joyous, sad, meaningful, desolate, rewarding, misunderstood adventure.

Your blessing will be greater than you could ever imagine in ways you could never imagine

You will carry the joy and shed the tears for the ones you cared for, and the ones you are still caring for.  You will never forget their faces, and you will carry them in your heart forever.  You will suddenly realize this is the biggest achievement in your life and the life of someone who really needed you, more than you needed them.

Your heart may get broken a little, but you will put tiny broken hearts back together, piece by piece, a little at a time until they are whole again.

And if, or when they go from your life, you will hold memories, photos, testimonies that will remind you of why you did this.  Why you loved a child unconditionally, without restrictions or parameters, contracts or conditions.  You will never forget them, and trust me, they will never forget you.

It is a lonely life sometimes, the one of the foster/adoptive parent.  One that is not understood, one sometimes overlooked, taken for granted.

 But, that is the very reason I CHOSE to be Life Coach to foster/adoptive parents.  It is a journey not everyone will understand, but I do. You see I fostered over fifty children, and adopted eight.  I know what you face every day, I know what you feel, what you worry about and what you need in the way of encouragement.

Contact me for any reason.  I am here.  I offer a free session to anyone on this journey.  Just put your name in the email sign up and I will contact you.

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Letting Your First Foster Child Go

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As vividly as I remember my first two arriving, I remember just as clearly the day the first one left.

The first of many, not to be the last, or forgotten.

This one went with joy!

I had sworn of course that I was not going back to diapers but, there I was with twins, and double diapers.  As usual the call came late in the afternoon, and this time he was a baby, eleven weeks old.  Not sure, I needed or wanted that, but there was no-where else for him to go.

He had an older sister and a a brother who were going to a young childless couple not far from where we lived.  But they had never had a baby, and this tiny one needed a little extra help, or that was the story.

I can tell you he needed MORE than a little extra help.

He arrived with a Child Protective Services worker as it was after hours.  He had dark hair that seemed to be oiled, a thin face, with large brown eyes that darted here and there.  His mouth seemed too big for his little face and he seemed very underweight.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I had here, but my instincts were, “something is not right”!

He seemed so fragile as I undressed him for a much needed bath.  His little body had hardly any fat on it, no chubby cheeks or rolls that are usual with a baby of this age.  He was agitated and I tried to soothe him, sing to him as I bathed him.  The bath water turned from clear to very dirty and after drying him off,  he was fair with blonde hair!

Comfort and snuggles were needed.  Amazing hubby took care of the twins and the older two at home got dinner together as I rocked this little one and tried to feed him his bottle.  The crying and agitation went on all night.  If I fed him he cried and cried.  I tried every position to hold him, he still cried.

By morning I was at the pediatrician.  By midday I was at the children’s hospital.  His ribs had been broken, he had been severely shaken.  He had gastric reflux, easier to fix that maybe the permanent damage that had been done to his body, and his brain.

I prayed over him, and for him again and again as I waited, just as we had done for him the night before.  This was my first experience of physical abuse, and in a child not even three months old, my heart was breaking for him.

Well, the story became a miraculous one.  After a full body scan to determine extent of injury and if there were any more breaks in his body, I was told they could not believe that his brain was intact.  Perfectly normal, but his ribs would wear large callouses where they had been broken.

He should have been permanently brain injured, but through prayer and the belief in healing, he was going to be fine.

I said goodbye to our little one three months later.  He was chubby, smiling, laughing, cooing, in fact a delight.  He went to be with the couple who had his older siblings.  I was so full of happiness because they told us they could not have their own baby and never thought they would be able to experience that wonderful joy!

He grew up to be amazing, and the young couple?  Well, they ended up getting pregnant against all odds, not once, but twice.  They gave not expecting and received and reaped the fruits of their love and labor.

Today, many of us are too busy to notice the growing number of children that stay in the foster system, some with no hope of a forever home, and some who cannot be found homes because they maybe a little “scary”.

If this tugs at your heart and you want to know more, or you have a child that you need to talk with someone about, please contact me.  I always offer a free mini session to see whether coaching is for you.

Until next time, next story, have a wonderful day and remember, “It’s better to build a child, than try to fix an adult” (Dave Thomas).

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The other side of adoption

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I fostered some fifty plus children, yet did not always meet their birth parents.  Some visited, some did not.  Each child was special and for the “token” subsidy per day, well I was not making money here.  I didn’t do it for that reason.  I did it because I walked into a case workers office one Friday afternoon and saw two little boys in desperate need of care, love, and a home.

Some of the kids that came across my path were etched upon my mind forever.  The baby who came into care, with dark brown hair, and olive skin, but upon bathing was blonde and fair.  A product of a  mom who had issues and oiled this baby so much he was unrecognizable.  But, that was the least of it.  He had been shaken, had the residue of broken bones on his ribs, and only through prayer, was normal.

Then there was the baby whose father had swung her around the room, he was intolerant of her crying.  Her femur was broken, she was in a body cast.  She was four months old, on the breast, arrived at my home at one in the morning and did not understand what a bottle was.  An angry, frightened, baby who wanted her mother.  She did go back, after much counseling that I think that father reneged on.

The little boy who came that was deaf.  The case worker had said (on a Friday afternoon of course at after 3p.m.) “Well he is hearing impaired,”.  I said “How much?”.  The week end did not go well other than I knew where this neglected child should go, but his older sister? And the baby who the five year old sister was a mother to?  Oh, so many issues and not enough parents or resources to deal with.

My adorable, lovable darling red haired child who arrived when she was about 23 months of age, and was a virtual triplet to my boys, the one I fell in love with but knew she need more than I could give.  I gave her to the adoptive parent of my choice, because that was what was best for my darling little child who had suffered more than I could give back to  her.  I love her to this day and am glad to say we are still in contact.  That is the power of adoption without judgment or remorse.

My twin boys seemed like a dream compared to most of this, but my turn was coming.  After so many children, the ones God sent to me to keep were complicated.  Autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, bi-polar, OCD, ADHD, the list goes on.  I call it the Alphabet syndrome.  But, while all  of that was part of who I adopted, it was also, or partly,  amongst my own birth children.

DO NOT EVER BE AFRAID OF SPECIAL NEEDS!  IF YOU ARE CALLED YOU WILL BE GIVE EVERY SKILL TO COPE WITH THIS.

Some of you out there have special needs kids that you did not adopt, they are yours.  Well, I’ll tell you a secret.  My bio kids are all special needs, that’s why I fostered, that’s why I adopted.  Do not ever be afraid.  If fostering or adopting is on your mind, it is for a reason.   You are privileged, you are called, you are about to be blessed in so many ways you cannot imagine.  And if you are reading this needing the help for your own birth children, then I am there also.  Please sign up on my email, let me know how I can help and I am there for you with a 15 minute free life coaching session.

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