Announcer: Welcome to the Adopting and Fostering Home podcast. Whether your family has been on this journey for years or you’re just getting started, we’re here to support and encourage you along the way. And now your hosts, Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber.
Lynette: Welcome back. I’m so excited today to be joined with a sweet friend, a new friend of mine, Faith Morgan. Tera and I are excited that she’s with us again today on the Adopting and Fostering Home podcast, which is a ministry of the North American Mission Board.
And so Faith, I don’t want to waste any time talking. I want to jump in with you. I’ve been reading on your blog and it’s just so exciting to me. And you asked a question on your blog one day—”So, you want to be a single foster parent?” And…
Faith: That’s a loaded question.
Lynette: That is a loaded question. And so you kind of have some pointers there, just from your journey.
Faith: Mm hmm.
Lynette: And so, we just want to ask you to share those today.
Faith: Absolutely. So I do, I talk to a lot of people. A lot of single women, a few single men, who just never knew this was an option to be a single foster parent and so they have a lot of questions. Just wondering like how do you make this work? How is it possible? And so, I get, you know, there are a lot of commonly asked things and I just want to share with people, just from my experience, just a few steps down the road from where you are.
Yes, it’s possible but yes, there are some things that you can do to prepare yourself spiritually, to prepare yourself. Just prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.
Tera: And your home. Prepare your home.
Lynette: Right, exactly.
Faith: Yeah, yeah. So one of the top things for me going into this was have a plan.
Lynette: Go ahead and start educating yourself. Read blogs. You know, go to seminars about foster care and adoption. Talk to foster parents. Read books. Learn about attachment parenting and learn about all the acronyms you know? SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder.
Faith: Learn how you handle a child with PTSD. You know, a lot of children in foster care have PTSD. What can you do? Learn that information now so that when you’re in the middle of it and you’re too tired and you’re too busy to go …
Faith: Searching for the information, you know where to find it. You already have a base knowledge, but you also know where to go. So … And then, on the other side of have a plan, be flexible. I love to travel and my first five rules of traveling are: Be flexible. The first 10 or 20 rules of foster care should be “Be flexible.”
Lynette: Be flexible…
Tera: I get that.
Lynette: Because you don’t know what you’re going to have in one, in a given day.
Faith: That’s right.
Lynette: Or in a given moment.
Faith: That’s right. So you know, it’s day-by-day but it’s also as a whole, you may get the call for your first placement and I mean you don’t know what age you’re going to get. I mean you probably have some parameters that you’ve set with your agency as far as what age range you’re willing to take.
Lynette: So what were some of your parameters? Like what did you feel the Lord led you? What were some of your boundaries?
Faith: Yeah. So, initially for my first placement, I wanted to take a child who based on my age could easily be my biological child. So, I’m thirty now so you know, there’s a pretty good range.
Lynette: That’s a fantastic point.
Tera: That is a good point.
Faith: Mmm hmm. I also understood that because I am working full-time I probably couldn’t take a medically-fragile case because I’m not at home so I can’t make all of the appointments that would be necessary for that. And I also, and as much as I love babies, I probably shouldn’t take a newborn because I can’t get up every two hours to feed the baby by myself…
Faith: And then go to work in the morning and function well.
Lynette: I think one of the things that we have to really recognize and feel comfortable with is that it’s okay to put those boundaries and parameters in place. It’s necessary.
Tera: It is.
Lynette: And not to feel guilty about that.
Faith: Mm hmm.
Tera: Our social worker was phenomenal when we were going through all of our paperwork and she asked us what of these things can you handle and what can you not handle. And I thought, “Well, Lord if you’ve called us to do this, shouldn’t we be able to handle everything?” No.
Tera: Not necessarily at all.
Tera: And so she was very great about saying be super honest with yourself of “Yes, I can do that.” Or “No, I cannot do that.” So that was very wise of you to do.
Lynette: And so I love that. Have a plan, but be flexible.
Lynette: That’s parenting. Just to be flexible.
Tera: It is.
Faith: But I mean, there are some things day-to-day that you know, with your biological child you probably wouldn’t deal with. I mean even in this past week you know, you have to be ready to drop everything to deal with something in the past.
Faith: To be able to help them forward into the future, we have a really sweet family who does respite care for me and on our next respite trip, they are planning on taking him on a weekend trip to Tennessee which sounded amazing to me. They were going to go hiking, and play basketball and do all these cool things. And I told my son and he just burst into tears. He just couldn’t fathom going to a different place.
Faith: And it was scary. Extremely scary. So you know, we tried to learn more about Tennessee and these are the cool things about Tennessee and then we hit you know, the state animal of Tennessee is the raccoon and he just burst into tears again. And says, “I’m going to die! The raccoons are going to kill me!”
So that’s when you have to be ready to drop everything and say, “Okay, obviously we need to go to Tennessee. You and me.”
Lynette: Right. There you go.
Tera: Because in his reality, you know, in his world … That was a very scary thought. And one of ours came home terrified of Texas. “I don’t ever want to go to Texas. Bad things happen in Texas.” Well, I’ve lived in Texas. It was wonderful. I loved it. And it was just a great, fun time for my husband and I. But you know, we laugh about it now. But that child when they first came home, they were terrified of Texas.
Lynette: We had a child who was petrified of our little, bitty house dog to the point that he couldn’t even function.
Faith: Oh no!
Lynette: Because he said that dogs were not a great thing where he was from.
Lynette: And so we ended up having to find, re-home our dog which was terrible for our family.
Tera: We’ve had to do the same thing. Yes.
Lynette: But I’m thinking these are the things that I wasn’t expecting that we’ve had to do. Be flexible and realize that there are going to be things that trigger certain emotions.
Lynette: And you have to be prepared to deal with that.
Faith: Mm hmm. So have a plan. Be flexible. And be prepared to sacrifice. I mean especially as a single, you have a lot of flexibility in your life. You can pick up and go and do anything whenever you want to. And it’s amazing.
Tera: I can’t even remember that …
Faith: You know? I mean I used to go out. You know, hang out with friends late at night. You know, you could go do that. I could go see a movie when I wanted to. I could go to the gym. But you need to be prepared to take a really hard look at your life and figure out what it is you need to give up to do what God has called you to do.
Lynette: Great point. Oh Faith, that’s great.
Faith: I mean, I even, you know, I had a girl who’s considering being a foster mom who is single who was telling me, “Well, I go to the gym three times a week. Am I going to have to give that up?” And I was like, “Uh, yeah, I mean probably.”
Lynette: Unless your foster child feels comfortable there.
Lynette: And that would be fun to that child.
Faith: Yes, so I mean you need to take a hard look at the things that they may be important in your life and you may be able to figure out how to make it happen, but you’ve got to be willing to give it up just in case.
Lynette: We have a friend who actually, it’s funny but she had an actual funeral for her old life.
Lynette: In order to be able to move forward and say, “Okay, I have to be able to put aside these things were wonderful. This was a great season, but now I’m just going to move past that and we’re going to trudge forward and we’re going to do what the Lord’s called us to do.”
Tera: You know, I had to do that last week. I really did. You know, because I just … I was a pastor’s wife for 25 years and all that’s over now. You know, I’m in a different season of life. And you know, learning that young, like you’re doing, you’re ahead of the curve.
Lynette: And it may be something that you have to revisit on a regular basis.
Faith: Absolutely. And I think it’s good to give yourself permission to mourn that.
Faith: That is okay to say, “That was a good life and I liked it.” That is okay to say that. It’s okay to mourn it as long as you don’t wallow in that.
Faith: As long as you don’t sit in that because if you do, that will be detrimental to your parenting.
Lynette: Mm hmm. Yes.
Faith: You know, it may be something like right before I got my first placement, I went on my last big international trip.
Tera: That’s a great idea!
Faith: Yeah. Just kind of a last hurrah with another good, single girlfriend. We went on a mission trip. And it was amazing and it was a good way to kind of close that chapter in my life. That may come back. I would love to be able to travel with my son and do those kinds of things, but that’s not our season right now.
Tera: Right now, your season is just making it to Tennessee, right?
Faith: That’s right!
Lynette: And making sure that he knows that raccoons will not kill him.
Faith: They will not.
Lynette: So have a plan. Be flexible. Be prepared to sacrifice.
Faith: And then understand that this may not be the way you imagined entering parenthood.
Lynette: Mm hmm.
Faith: You know, I had a funny conversation with some co-workers not too long ago. They were talking about their first, you know, the birth of their first child and they were like, “Well, you know, we only got to spend two nights in the hospital.” Or, “We were out after one night.” And I was like, “Oh, I mean they dropped him off on my doorstep and said Good luck.” Which you know, is a little bit of an exaggeration but it’s true.
Tera: But that’s reality for foster.
Faith: It is. It is. And, I mean this kid walks into your house and you go, “Okay.”
Lynette: Okay, here we go.
Faith: I’ve got to figure out how to parent you. Um, you know, it’s different especially if you end up with a child who isn’t an infant. You know, these are kids that talk back to you.
Faith: And when you put them down, they don’t stay there. And they have opinions. And so that’s very different than the process of learning how to be a parent with an infant. You have a little bit, like I said, when you put down an infant, they stay there. You’ve got to learn on the fly how to do this.
Faith: And it’s also the fact that when you enter this journey of being a parent, the community around you may not celebrate it in the way that you would have anticipated.
Lynette: I say, just assume they won’t.
Tera: Right, I agree.
Faith: I would agree with that too. I mean you’re probably not going to get showers. And you’re probably not going to get a meal train set-up for you where people will bring you meals for the first two months. And it’s just because it’s a little bit outside the range of what people see of as normal. They just don’t… they don’t think of it. It’s not that they don’t want to help you. It’s just that they don’t think of it and that’s okay. But be prepared for the fact that your journey into parenting may not look like you imagined it would be.
Tera: Very good.
Lynette: I think it’s one of the things we have to remember is that we might have hopes and dreams, but we hold those loosely.
Faith: Mmm hmm.
Lynette: Because those hopes and dreams that we are clinging to may very well not be how the Lord …
Faith: That’s right.
Lynette: Has your life planned out for you. And to be able to trust that He is good and that He has your best interest at heart and your son’s best interest at heart. And that this may not be how you thought it was going to go, but this is the blessing in which He’s given you.
Tera: That’s right.
Faith: And then also, kind of what we talked about a little bit before was must know your limits.
Lynette: Mm hmm.
Faith: Know what you can handle. Are you great with teenagers but you know that babies aren’t really your thing? Know that.
Faith: And this doesn’t need to be your first exposure to working with children. You need to be in church nursery. You need to be helping out with youth group.
Lynette: That’s a very good point.
Faith: Yeah. You need to be in there. You need to know what ages you respond to well. You need to know what you’re prepared for. And I know that you know, like Tera said, you feel like, “Well, I should be able to do any of it because this is what God has called me to do.” But, you may not be equipped to start with three siblings. I know your heart breaks for them.
Faith: I know you want to help them, but this may not be what God has called you to and you need to be honest with yourself. You need to be honest with your case workers. Because when you’re not, it’s more likely that you’re going to end up with a disruptive placement and a kid that has to move from your home.
Now sometimes that’s inevitable even when you know your limits and you put parameters around it.
Faith: Sometimes that will happen and it will be devastating.
Faith: But if you can avoid some of that by knowing your limits and just you know, being honest about what you can and can’t do, then you’re going to be better off and your journey … I’m not going to say it’s going to be smooth, but just being aware of what God’s already gifted you and enabled you to do is so important.
Tera: That is fantastic. That is just great information because like you said, when we don’t work within the boundaries we know the Lord’s placed around us and we go to Him in prayer. And He puts limits on our heart. Like, “Here’s what I want you to …” You know, He gives you a piece about it and then we go outside of that because we feel guilty or we feel like we have to rescue everyone. That’s when the ship can start to go down.
Faith: Mm hmm. Because you know, you cannot fix the problem by yourself.
Faith: And God didn’t tell you to do that.
Faith: God called you to be faithful with this one case that’s in front of you right now.
Faith: And so for me right now, that means even though I have another room in my home, my greatest responsibility is to the child who is in my home right now. And I know that even though we have the space for another child, I know that would not be good for him right now.
Faith: Especially another foster case. He has issues with loss. So a kid that came into the home, stayed a little while and then left, would be devastating to him. And my responsibility to him is to know that. And to not push beyond even just the limits of our family.
Lynette: Very good. Well Faith, I love that. Have a plan. Be flexible. Parenting, you just got to be flexible.
Faith: Right, amen to that.
Lynette: And have a plan though, before the child comes into the home. Have help set up. Have a list. Tera and I talked earlier in a podcast about writing it down. Call these people. And I love your community of care that’s been built around you. And, you know, that’s something Tera and I want people to understand these podcasts. If you’re not … Maybe you’re not, you don’t feel called to be a foster parent, but you have a heart for foster kids. You can do so many things that I see as helping you, Faith.
Lynette: You know, building strength around you.
Tera: Absolutely. And when you’re talking about the couple that takes your son for respite …
Lynette: I love that!
Tera: That’s phenomenal. Everybody’s not called upon to have a foster child in their home. Everybody’s not called to adopt, but you can befriend a foster family and be able to do what they need. So we have a friend today that is purchasing a bicycle for a foster child because that’s really what he wanted and that’s what his foster parents really feel like would be awesome for him. So somebody just stepped right into that gap and said, “Hey, we’ll purchase that for you.” Or taking a meal to somebody. Or taking them for two hours every Sunday night. Those things that are huge blessings to you.
Tera: And a great support. So we may not all be called to have a child in our home 24-7, but we can all do something.
Lynette: But that encouragement, I mean it what gets you up every day, isn’t it? Knowing, I’m not forgotten. Someone cares about us, our family unit. We even have, in our church, we’re seeing senior adults rise up and want to be helpful. And we even have a sweet, senior adult lady in our church and every time she goes to her warehouse store, she buys new pajamas for foster kids, you know? And it’s just a tremendous help and an encouragement.
Faith: It is. It’s a blessing to us but you know, I even heard the couple that helps us out, the husband just said the sweetest thing. He said, “You know, we’ve been married for a long time but every week we have this two hours where it’s I see her at her best and she sees me at my best and it’s like we’re dating again.”
Faith: And it’s actually been really an encouragement for them in their marriage.
Lynette: So the two hours with your son …
Faith: Right. The two hours they spend every week with my son, they are each at their best. And they get to see each other at their best.
Lynette: Oh, that’s beautiful.
Faith: And it’s a good reminder for them. And that’s something I never would have thought of. So I would encourage foster parents reach out and ask for help. Let people help you because not only is it a blessing to you, it is a blessing to them.
Lynette: Right. That’s a great place to end today. Faith, thank you for being with us and we’ll put information about Faith’s blog and some resources that you would recommend.
Lynette: Maybe to people stepping into foster care, single or married. I’m sure you’ve read some great resources that I don’t know anything about. So we’re going to put those on the show notes.
I also want to encourage you, if you want to help with foster care that this is a ministry of the North American Mission Board and a leg of our ministry is called Sin Relief and under Sin Relief, Tera and I have been doing a ministry called Restoring Dignity, where we want to provide a week’s worth of new clothing for children taken out of dangerous situations.
Tera: Yes. So one of the things that we have come in contact with through building a relationship with our defects workers is that they have seen as they bring children out, that they don’t have anything. That they may just put their clothing or whatever… One show, one sock. A ratty old teddy bear into a garbage sack and that’s all that they have. And so one of the ways that as a body of believers that our churches can get involved, is to provide a rolling suitcase and some new clothes for them to be able to have something to wear to school that they’re not embarrassed about. And to be able to have something they call their own. So anything that we can do to help these children have some dignity… To be proud of what they have and even though they’ve been in a tough situation, to be able to have something sweet done for them where they know that others are caring about them.
Lynette: And so that’s another way that you can connect with foster children and that ministry is called Restoring Dignity. We’ll also have that on the NAMB website and you can connect with us that way.
Thanks for joining us today. Faith, thank you for being with us.
Faith: Thanks so much for having me.
Lynette: And we know that you’re moving toward adoption with your son.
Faith: I am.
Lynette: And we’re going to celebrate that with you someday.
Faith: Thank you.
Lynette: We’re so excited. And the Lord, He builds families.
Faith: That’s right.
Lynette: He’s in the business of doing it every minute of every day and we’re so grateful to Him.
Thanks for joining us for the Adopting and Fostering Home Ministry of the North American Mission Board and we look forward to connecting with you again.
Speaker 1: You have been listening to the Adopting and Fostering Home, a resource of the North American Mission Board. For more information about today’s podcast and other relevant resources, visit NAMB.net/sendrelief.