The Phifers: Reunification

“D” was a fragile 3 days old when she joined our family. She was smaller in size for her gestational age. I remember how her clothes would just hang off of her tiny body.  I even remember how she would just lay there, no affect, no movement, just —there. Fast forward 11 months!
She was grabbing at and holding her bottle, completely filling out her 9 months size outfits and shoes and, most importantly, the full laugh that she would giggle whenever her siblings, my other children, were around. She was a pure joy!
Before I met her mom, I was angry with her. Angry that her choices contributed to this baby’s massive struggles. But then I met her! Single mom, displaced from her family, employment, and home. Her disheveled appearance told me that she was even about to be displaced from life! Her anguish forced me to look deeper into my own shortcomings and struggles and all I could see was God’s Grace and Mercy. Honestly a few more bad decisions and I could have been her.
So, I started texting pictures and memo’s of “D” babbling and I began to receive messages that started to speak life. She was regaining her will to succeed. She was pushing forward to getting better and every time she reached a milestone, I would send another image of her daughter.
I remember getting the phone call that said, we will be picking “D” up at 10 on Sunday….a week prior to her birthday.
My heart stopped, because my baby girl was leaving.  Then my heart jumped, because her mom had taken her life back.
So many emotions, so many thoughts.
My takeaway from having the privilege of fostering this baby and her mom into wellness and wholeness is nothing short of the blessing in realizing just how valuable we are to God’s Kingdom! More than compensating for our own loss is the ability to be supporting, loving and compassionate to someone who needs it the most!
*The goal of foster care is to reunify these children with their biological family. The Phifer family is reflecting  the grace and forgiveness that God gives us everyday when they show grace to the biological parents of the children in their care. As we are praying for our foster families we also pray for the biological families to be healed and reunified.

Lindsey and Heather – Supporting Biological Families

It’s National Foster Care Awareness Month, and we want to celebrate our families! We love both our foster families and biological families! Foster families exist to SUPPORT biological families until their kids can return home, and even after.

One of our foster moms, Lindsey Snyder, shared a part of her story….

“Meeting Heather and truly getting to know her allowed me to see foster care through a different lens. Her son was the third placement we took after we opened as a foster home in 2015. While I got to know her, I was able to look past her situation and see her for who she was. God blew me away with how He used that relationship to bless my family and hers!

One of the hardest parts of foster care is the simultaneous celebration of a child who returns home and the loss you feel when your relationship with the child being diminished. But when we allowed our relationship with Heather to grow we found so much beauty that we weren’t expecting.

I gained a friend, a fellow mother who was now raising 4 kids by herself. And she’s pretty awesome! She’s so very hard working for her kids and one of the most selfless people I have ever met. We get the joy of being able to babysit occasionally and having family meals together. While it hurt to lose a foster son, I gained what can only truly be described as a nephew! 

I had no idea before entering the world of foster care that the relationship I would have with the biological family would be one of the biggest blessings of my life.”

Sunshine and Rainbows : The Norman’s Story

Sunshine and Rainbows

From guest blogger Tamra Norman, a foster/adoptive mom. Find more stories from the Norman family visiting their blog.

On my last blog post about adopting, I made a comment about this journey not being all sunshine and rainbows.  But then I filled your Facebook feed yesterday with picture perfect pictures and smiling faces of a little baby who was adopted as an infant and came to us from the hospital.  So I have felt this burden to make sure as an advocate for these kids, I clear up a few things.

  • We will begin our 7th year of fostering in May and out of 20+ kids there have been 5 total that have gone up for adoption.  Our girls, Henry, and 2 others.  5.  Let that number sink in.
  • In 6 years of fostering we have only brought 2 babies straight home from the hospital at birth.  Henry, and one who only spent one night with us.  Our first placement was 4 weeks old.  Still a newborn but not straight from the hospital.
  • The majority of our kids have reunified with family members or parents.
  • Henry is number 7 and there’s been one born recently.  He has a half sister who went to live with her father, 5 half siblings (these 5 have the same mom and dad) who are in an adoptive placement, and 1 born in December who is currently in the care of birth family.
  • Henry was on track to leave us and go with his birth dad.  His case was kept completely separate because termination had already happened on the others and reunification with his father was the plan.  I  had actually built a good relationship with dad so I could help out after he left.
  • I couldn’t send him to daycare for the first 8-9 months.  Like it was court and doctor ordered because he was too fragile.  This meant I worked, had 4 other kids, and had to work out his schedule as well.
  • Henry was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  FAS is currently a leading diagnosis only behind autism.  So I decided instead of keeping this as some dark and dirty secret, awareness is key.
Why do I tell you all of this?
  • Because bringing a newborn home from the hospital and adopting them a year later is not the norm.
  • Because if you foster to eventually adopt a newborn, you may get tired of waiting.  I would’ve waited for almost 7 years and let me tell you something…when you are fostering just to hopefully get a newborn you can keep, you won’t make it 7 years.
  • Because sometimes all we get are the pretty pictures on Facebook and we don’t get the real picture behind them.
Am I thrilled Henry is a part of our family?  Absolutely!!  Do I foster babies/kids in the hopes they will stay with us forever?  Absolutely not.  That’s called adoption.  And there is a huge need for adoption with older kids and sibling groups.  We choose to foster, pray for reunification, and pray for restoration in families.  And most of the time, that is exactly what happens.