Friday, November 21, 2008

Unique Family Planning

We attended a forum on adoption last night at church. Stefan organized the event and ran it like a pro. She’s so young to be so poised in front of so many folks. She invited three adoption representatives to discuss their particular organizations and I was excited to hear from each.

The first speaker (another young lady quite self-confident for the tender age of 23) spoke about refugee foster care. There are 16 refugee foster care centers in the United States and Lansing has one of them – who knew? Most of these kids, usually in their teens, come after losing their parents and have no adult guardian. Foster families are needed to help these kids learn the language and adapt to a brand new culture. One example the rep gave was, “You have to teach them to vacuum. You have to teach them what a vacuum is.”

The next representative was from Bethany Christian Services, an organization that helps with domestic and international adoptions. As I listened to her talk I couldn’t help but think of my precious nephews and niece, all three of whom came to our family via overseas adoption.

Finally a gentleman spoke on fostering hard to place children, those children who are older, above the age of 14, or with handicaps. This was the guy I wanted to hear. For some time now I’ve felt like Sean and I should consider opening our home to older kids without a stable home. The thought of a child turning 18, aging out of the system and having nowhere to go for Thanksgiving puts me over the edge. Who’s going to teach him to drive or balance a checkbook or help him apply for college? The thought of older kids being bounced from foster home to foster home… I can’t stand it.

Before anyone calls and asks if I’ve lost my mind, let me be clear: we aren’t thinking about doing this next week or even next year. I don’t want to change our birth order, plus I’m not naïve enough to think being a foster mom will be a tiptoe through the tulips. It will be a struggle and I want to make sure I have the time to devote to it.

Even though this venture is a few years off I was interested to hear what this man had to say and I was specifically interested in knowing if foster families can homeschool their foster kids. Someone asked the question before I even could (our church is very sympathetic towards homeschoolers) and the man said, “Well, most people want to put these kids in school so they have adequate social interaction.”

A momentary but palpable hush fell over the assembled and I had to bite my lip to keep from saying anything. There were at least six home school families in attendance; I think we all did a remarkable job not taking that man to the woodshed and teaching him a thing or two. We could have demonstrated good socialization and bad socialization...

All in all it was a sad but hopeful evening. About 70 people from our congregation came out on a cold, snowy night to find out how we can look after orphans, either as foster parents, adoptive parents or supporters of those who chose to do either. The need is great. But we, who once were orphans, know what it is to be adopted by our Heavenly Father. How can we not provide for the orphans living among us? I think tonight was a good start in that direction.