Our Journey of Kinship Foster care and Adoption
Where to begin with our story?
1) We’re middle aged (not too old but old enough that we are starting over)
2) We didn’t plan on this situation becoming permanent
3) It’s a bittersweet victory
When we were asked in February of 2018 to take over foster care of a family members little one, my husband and I had no hesitation and readily agreed. After all, it was only going to be temporary and my family member would straighten up and do the things that the state requested of her in order to be reunified with her child. Right? So in March 2018 we officially became first time foster parents.
So with a lot of hope and a whole lot of naivety we jumped into being both foster parents and aunt and uncle to a cute two and a half year old little girl. She was a whirlwind to say the least! She left destruction in her path and had absolutely NO boundaries. She didn’t know a stranger and honestly would have went to and with whoever showed her attention. It scared us tremendously. We often wondered what we had gotten ourselves into with taking her into our home and hearts.
We went to family support meetings every three months, we tried to be supportive like they taught us in our Foster Parent books and classes, but my family member was on a path of self destruction. We just didn’t know it at that time. We thought that they would surely do the right things, after all she had lost one child to SIDS and she understands what losing a child is like. We didn’t want that for her again and certainly not by us.
We got our little one enrolled into Headstart when she was three and found out that it wasn’t just us that had troubles getting her to settle down and be still. She had to be held by her teachers in order to not interrupt her classmates, she had to be redirected numerous times during her half a day of learning, she did not do well with not interrupting when adults were talking and numerous other behavioral issues. Her school Counselor called us and informed us that they would like to have her evaluated by a child psychiatrist as well as a play therapist. We were willing to do whatever it took to help her in her mannerisms because we still thought at this point that we were only going to be her temporary family until her biological mother was able to take care of her.
We went to the psychiatrist, as well as our little one started play therapy at school with “Miss Jen Jen”. It was amazing! We have always been a Christian family and to have someone who loves God as much as we did helping our little girl was the blessing that we didn’t know she or my husband and I needed! She worked very hard with our foster daughter and listened to us when times got really tough. And they got really really bad at times. My sister would refuse drug tests, she turned my parents against me at one point, to which I had to cut all ties with them for a very long while. Some super ugly things were said about us and to us. And all we were doing was taking care of this little girl who we had grown to love with all of our hearts! We never set out with intent to adopt but after a year and a half our permanency goal changed from reunification to adoption. All the while Jen was working with our little one with her behaviors. They had improved so much in the year and a half that she had been seeing her at that point. Jen was able to see beyond her little whirlwind thoughts and was able to figure out the things that triggered our little one to the point of hyper vigilance that she would display after contact every week with her biological mother.
Jen was the angel (although she won’t say it and doesn’t see it that way) that our family desperately needed. There were many times in our journey that we wanted to give up. Fostering is difficult but kinship foster care is excruciating! You lose family and friends because you refuse to “bend” the rules, you fight an uphill battle with different parenting styles and you are just plain the BAD guy because the child lives with you and not their biological parent. We got to the point that we had to make a decision in the foster parenting process and that was if we would be willing to adopt this precious little girl who had done nothing wrong in her life. This little girl who had us head over heels for her. So when asked we agreed to file a petition for adoption since it was obvious that my family member wasn’t going to change their ways. We had a long road ahead of us. She had other family that decided that they wanted to also adopt and we were then faced with a strong possibility of losing this precious little one that God had sent to us to care for. We already had 10 children between my husbands previous marriage and my previous marriage and the two that we had together, so it wasn’t as if we were childless, but this little girl had been sent to us and we couldn’t let her down. Jen often heard our woes and trials as foster-parents soon to be adoptive as well as helping our little one discover why she behaved in the ways that she did and helping her understand her own feelings. Mind you at this point she’s only 4 years old.
Finally we got a TPR and Adoption day. We were obviously on pins and needles waiting for that day to be over and turn towards our favor. Annnnnd it did! Jen was just as nervous as we were and she was the very first person to take the stand, thankfully for us it was in our favor! During a break from court testimonies, Jen said a quick prayer that things would go smoothly. We know that without Jen's expert testimony that things could have gone south quickly. But because she is the person and therapist that she is we were able to prevail and adopt our daughter. She is such a God-send to us and Jen was placed in our lives for that miracle to happen. Thank you Miss Jen Jen for the love that you showed our daughter and our family with your support and continuing guidance! We love you and hope that our testimony will help other’s in their trials of life!
1) I began testing to donate my kidney for my sister
2) I began Alanon
3) I tested for certification of AIFD for floral design
4) I tested positive for breast cancer
All of these miracles confirmed that God was working very diligently in my life to bring me closer to him. To see his power over my life.
I learned throughout my 41 years at the time how to live very confidently and successfully in the chaos that always seemed to be around me and come out on top. My mother had taught me this.
I had been a christian and was baptized at 16 but really never fully relied on Christ to run my life until 2009 and the years that followed. I resigned myself to spending the remainder of my life on reaching full restoration as God intended me to be, happy, joyous and free in His loving arms, daily.
It has been the hardest journey, to be honest, to relinquish this control over to Him. But I believe now, if i didn't , I would not have survived the horror that was to come.
You see, I had believed that if I did all the "right things", everything would be good. For me and for my girls. The problem was, I am not that powerful, God is. This is His story, for me. I needed to surrender to his will for me and my girls.
I only need to trust Him and get out of His way and stop working against Him. I believed that I was smart enough and knew enough to prevent bad things from happening. But I only had part of the picture. God knew the whole story as it would unfold.
Through my 10 plus years in Alanon, I began to trust Jesus and relinquish control. What peace I found it.
1) Through testing for donation of my kidney (my first leaf of faith as i had no insurance, was sole breadwinner for my family), I found my cancer. They said it would have killed me before i found it if i hadn't been tested at that exact time.
2) Through Alanon, I learned how to trust God, which has helped me survive the devastation that was to come with my own daughters addiction and abuse.
3) I passed my certification, which later was key in me receiving a job offer that would provide for my family through my husbands stroke and raising the children of my daughter.
4) I beat the cancer. No, Jesus healed me. The same kind of cancer kills many, my own aunt, but i was spared, and I didn't miss a day of work through the surgeries, chemo and radiation.
I now know whatever curveball that gets thrown my way, God already knows the outcome, and i must trust it. I must. There are days i get tired, and really just want to go "home" to all the family i have lost and to my Jesus. But for some reason, I am still here. I will rest when i am told to rest, move when i am told to move, and never, ever ever give up hope.
There were years I felt cursed or even punished. God knew what was down the road and needed me to be ready for it. You see, my daughter was an addict. Beginning in her teens she became addicted to all forms of drugs which lead her to bondage, abuse, beatings, homelessness, prostitution, mental illness and many arrests. I mourned my living child for over 10 years. I wanted it over, her pain and mine. I had learned through support groups and therapy that God is her father and I had to stay out of His way so He could bring her home. I did not always do that but when I finally did, she found Jesus. Along the way I was given strength to raise her babies, work full time and find joy in this life. I had to learn to trust God when all the worldly elements told me to do otherwise. I had to remember that healing is promised, strength is promised, love is promised, and I could not lose faith. Without it I would not be here, and neither would my daughter.
My daughter is a changed person today. I never thought she would know Jesus or trust him. She fought very hard and the devil was surely in her ear. She did not learn who He was because of what influence I had, but by the desperation and people who came to her, through Him.
Today I am so very thankful. Because of God my daughter is now a believer, and my second husband who was an alcoholic is also healed and is a great partner in this adventure God has given us.
"We were so hesitant to call a counselor. We were relatively new foster parents and didn’t understand that we had a choice in who counseled our foster children. We had had a bad experience with a court ordered psychiatrist and while we knew we could ask for a counselor, we assumed the State would pick which one. However, we reached a point where we knew we needed help and discovered after asking our caseworker that we did have the freedom to pick as long as the counselor accepted medicaid.
We met Jen when she was with McGuire Christian Counseling. She fit right in with our family and somehow gained the trust of our kids almost immediately. Because of her faith and gift of discernment she was able to point our entire family to Christ as the Great Healer of all. She addressed the issues we had without judgement and without labels. She treated the kids with loving respect and honesty, never sugar-coating their past experiences but always pointing them to the truth. She never rushed and always had time to answer our questions and give advice even throughout the week.
My oldest daughter struggles with anxiety. For a year, she would not allow me to brush, let alone fix her hair. Jen began counseling her and helped us with ways to help her cope with her anxiety. I will never forget the moment she proudly came to me after a counseling session with her hair fixed in beautiful rope-braids! She allowed Jen to show me how and fixing her hair has become one of my favorite things to do.
I see Jesus in Jen every time I am with her. Her enthusiasm and passion for families is contagious! Her experience is vast and she is incredibly wise. Her wisdom comes from God and because of that her judgement is sound. I feel very lucky to have found a counselor who shares our family’s worldview and love for Jesus. She was and continues to be incredibly encouraging to me and I’m so grateful we made the call to her for counseling. She is and always will be a part of our family and we love her very much."
-Kristal Black, Zero 2 Five