A Story of Foster Care and Adoption
by Erica Asbury
I was five years old when they left—two boys, both crying. The boys hugged all of us and then got into a car with a woman we did not know. I asked my grandmother when they were coming home. She told me they had a new home with someone else. Although my sister was only three at the time, she says she remembers when they left too. We were all sad for days and days and I asked for them every morning...only to be told they were with their new family.
I had heard the term “foster mother” many, many times, but being so young I didn’t really understand it. And this experience left me confused. After all, those boys called my grandmother “Grandmommy” just like I did. I eventually realized that although my paternal grandfather had died when I was an infant, my grandmother was full of life and she loved children. There was always another child at her house! We just called them “cousins” growing up.
When I was in first grade my parents told us that my father had been adopted from foster care. There was that term again, but still no explanation (probably because my focus at the time was on what “adopted” meant). I remember feeling sad for my daddy when he showed us a picture of a woman he said was his birth mom. She had dropped him off and never came back.
Any child hearing that story might feel sad; however, my dad was very upbeat as he told us. He was three months old when he went into foster care and was adopted by my grandparents when he was twelve years old. He smiled so much when he talked about how lucky he was to be adopted—that my grandparents “fell in love with him and chose him!”
When I was 17, my father sat both my sister and me down to tell us the entire story. He named people we had known throughout our lives and said they are our family through love. We knew my mother was one of 13 kids on her side of our family, but as l child, we were never given an of an official count for the number of siblings my father had. I understood 4 women were his sisters. Also, there was a neighbor who said he was my father’s best friend sometimes or my father’s brother at other times. (My daddy usually called everyone brother.) My aunts and uncles on my father’s side were much older people and they gushed over both me and my sister. There was always a lot of love.
My father then explained his family through biology. Much to our shock, several people in our lives were my father’s actual biological siblings. He had researched and found his biological mother and all her children. For roughly ten years, we had been sitting next to them at barbeques and birthday parties. His birthmother was the lady who, as we complained, stared at us too much.
Despite my father’s positive view, I admitted that it still hurt my 17-year-old heart to hear that all my aunties were foster or adopted. My father closed our candid conversation about his family by begging me and my sister to never talk to our grandmother about it because, as he lovingly reminded us, she was his real mother as far as he was concerned. And as time went on, my father allowed us to ask questions and see his birth certificate and photographs.
My father was a committed volunteer, serving on both the board that reviewed child placement cases for more than 10 years and on the juvenile justice commission. He also located the 2 boys we remembered moving on from our grandmother’s home many years earlier. We were even able to visit with them as adults.
My dad made us promise to always love people...no matter how they come into our lives.
Hearing about my father’s gratefulness and witnessing my grandmother’s unconditional love for so many children over the years (from the 1950’s until the later 1970’s), instilled in me the need to also give back.
During the 3rd year of marriage, my husband and I applied for and became foster parents. Our first assignment was a 4-month-old respite placement. We adored him and did not want him to leave. The foster children who followed him into our home were harder to place teens with mental health issues and behavior concerns.
In each case, we actively and lovingly accepted these older foster children until we were forced to decline taking foster children due to health-related issues due to my own pregnancy. Then, many other unexpected life changes also took place, including the death of my beloved father. I relocated to North Carolina 5 years ago and, although I am convinced that I could not do it again, I have thought about returning to foster care every day. I would like to honor my Grandmom Mable for taking in all those children over the years. I would like to honor the memory of my biological grandmother who decided that my dad deserved a life she could not offer him. Most importantly, I would like to honor my own father who, in searching for what he thought he had missed, never lost sight of all the parenting, love and wonderful life he already had received.
I now know many people here in NC who have fostered and/or adopted children and that has increased my yearning to give back. I am now giving my support to the community of bonus parents and caregivers through AGAPE of NC. Foster care was not only the change that made my father’s life better, but it has helped make my life purposeful!
Rhonda Sciortino is a former foster child who emancipated from the child welfare system at age 16. She started in the insurance industry at 15 and started her own retail insurance agency at age 27. She has started organizations to help people and organizations that help abused children and dysfunctional families. Rhonda went from abandonment, abuse, and poverty to joy, peace, and financial prosperity. Rhonda desires to help others use the adversities in their lives as the stepping stones to their successes in every area of life.
by Kim Scott
Director of AGAPE of NC
In response to the needs of North Carolina’s young adults in the foster care system, AGAPE launched SALEM HOUSE — a home located in the Winston Salem area that caters to an independent living environment for young males (18-21 years old) aging out of foster care. SALEM HOUSE opened to accept young men from all over North Carolina in October.
We recognize the churches who contributed or pledged items/funds as a congregation or whose members made donations individually (Trust us, HE knows your names!): 36th Street Church of Christ, Vienna, WVA Friendly Avenue Church of Christ, Greensboro, NC North Raleigh Church of Christ, Raleigh, NC Raleigh Church of Christ, Raleigh, NC Oak Forest Church of Christ, Goldsboro, NC Roosevelt Drive Church of Christ, Jacksonville, NC
AGAPE cannot thank you enough for your help to get SALEM HOUSE up and running!
The young men who come to live at SALEM HOUSE will be going to school, finding jobs, and building lasting relationships as they transition to independent living. We trust you and others will continue support for the future of SALEM HOUSE and the lasting Change for Life this home will make in the lives of these young men!
...and AGAPE wants to build on this success! Females (18-21 years old) are also aging out of the foster care system in North Carolina and need help in their transition to independent living. So, stay tuned as we plan to open a similar home for young women!
BY WAYNE PARKER
We have heard several foster parents talk about the challenge of bringing children into their home that use bad language. There is the challenge to help this child learn appropriate words as well as other children in the home, especially younger ones, not picking up the same habits by repeating what they hear. This article by Wayne Parker on TheSpruce.com addresses the challenge with some good advice.
Rhonda Sciortino abandoned at the age of six months became a ward of the court until she emancipated at 16. Except for a brief time with a wonderful foster family, those first 16 years were spent in the custody of a mentally ill man and alcoholic woman–her grandparents. Including around eight years old being homeless for months because the grandparents home was destroyed by fire.
At age 15 Rhonda decided to seek emancipation. It was required that Rhonda have a job to be granted the emancipation. So, Rhonda learned everything she could about insurance. Despite being denied again and again, Rhonda repeatedly petitioned the Insurance Commissioner to allow her to sit for the insurance agent exam even though she wasn’t yet 18. An exception was finally granted, and Rhonda became California’s youngest licensed insurance agent at 17.
Rhonda has overcome many obstacles to become a very successful businesswoman, author and speaker. She now serves as a National Child Welfare Specialist, helping child welfare organizations all over the US to manage the risks and realities of caring for kids.
aired on CBS 12/19/17
A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS WITH JOSH GROBAN features uplifting stories of adoption from foster care and raises awareness of this important social issue. The inspirational stories of these American families are enhanced with performances by some of today's most popular artists. (TV-PG) The show aired on 12/19/17 and we thought too good not to share here for those of you that have not have seen it.
AGAPE of North Carolina's mission is to continue providing safe, stable, loving, Christian homes and services to foster and adoptive children in your community. Support like yours is vital and we are so grateful for your commitment to our mission this past year! If you are interested in learning more or ready to take that next step toward fostering or adoption please contact us at agapeofnc.org/contact-us/.
The rise of opioid addiction in our country has had a direct impact on the foster care system. Maybe you can't be a foster parent right now but your still interested in helping. Being a cuddler is a wonderful way to aid a child going through addiction withdrawal before they enter the foster care system. Learn more by watching this video from A Fostered Life:
This book by Kelly and John Rosati details the easy and hard of their adoption story. In an interview by Focus on the Family, Kelly said "John and I like to encourage folks who are feeling that urge, that gentle pushing of the Lord’s hand at your back, to get involved with foster care or adoption. Don’t be afraid to go for it. There could be a child out there who needs you desperately. You could be the one to make a difference in his or her life. God may have a new adventure in store for your family. Be open. Follow where God leads."
If you feel that urge and are ready to get more information, please visit the foster care, adoption, and contact us pages here on our website. We are eager to meet and work with you!
by Lydia Huth
Now that you’ve chosen to pursue adoption, how do you share the news with your loved ones? While there’s no “right” approach to the conversation, there are several ways to prepare yourself for the best possible results.
1. Be informed.
Most likely, your friends and family will have questions. Be prepared to explain the adoption process, and decide in advance how much of your story that you will feel comfortable sharing. If you experienced a personal challenge that led to your adoption plans, it is all right to let your loved ones know that you would prefer not to discuss it at this time.
To help the conversation along, you can create a FAQ with answers to questions like “When will you get your baby?” and “What if the birth mother changes her mind?” Another option is to prepare a list of adoption-safe terms and their definitions, such as “birth mother,” so that your loved ones will feel equipped to talk to your child.
2. Consider past experiences and be aware of all possibilities.
Of course, there is no way to predict what their response will be, but be prepared to lovingly address concerns and shared excitement. Awareness of all possible responses will help limit disappointment and confusion during the actual conversation.
Also, remember that your close family members might be experiencing the loss of their expectations for grandchildren or nieces and nephews. It’s important to express empathy for these potential feelings and listen to their struggles—this is yet another way that you can be Christlike in your adoption journey!
3. Be confident and excited about your decision.
If you’re excited and confident, you are striving to foster that environment for your circle. However, if responses turn out to be less positive, you will also have confidence in your decision and support within your own immediate family.
You can develop these emotions in a variety of ways, including a preparatory pep talk with your spouse or a cute adoption announcement photo shoot!
4. Remember that your immediate family needs to make this decision for yourselves.
We love our friends and family, and we hope that they’ll support us. However, the decision to adopt is ultimately one that your immediate family must make. While being open to outside opinions is wise, you have to know what is right for your family, as well as what you are being called to do. Looking after your immediate family, and your adopted child, is a priority!
5. Seek a support group with similar experiences.
No matter what you experience in the adoption process, you are not alone! The internet and your local community provide countless ways to connect with other future adoptive families and current adoptive families of all kinds. Having this strong support group will help you navigate your challenges—and they can give you hands-on advice as you talk to your loved ones.
Ready to begin pursuing adoption, or have questions that you need answered? We’re excited to welcome you into the AGAPE family! Find out more about our adoption services HERE.
by The Huffington Post
There is a need for more foster care parents across our nation including here in North Carolina. This article by The Huffington Post explains the need and encourages your involvement. "Foster parenting can be incredibly challenging, and might just be the most difficult “job” a person tackles in one’s life. At the same time, it can also be the most rewarding job a person does in his or her lifetime." says Dr. John DeGarmo a leading expert in parenting and foster care.
by Kevin Kolbe
How does the Bice Family feel about fostering? "You are going to get more out of this by giving a part of your life to this kid than you can ever imagine", that's how! While we’re not all called to adopt or foster, we can certainly be thankful for those families that follow the Lord’s lead to open their homes to kids and we can support them with a donation to Change for Life!
by A Fostered Life
This is our last installment of the Building a Foster Care Village video series. If you have not seen the previous 4 videos, please take a moment and catch up! Today's video talks about the benefits of a good Support Group. Friends and family are wonderful, but there is a time where those walking a similar path are what you really need.
by A Fostered Life
The series by A Fostered Life continues today talking about Specialist. You will find encouragement to go looking for the specialist needed, such as sexual trauma specialist, behavior specialist or developmental specialist. Remember, the foster parent is the number one advocate for the child in your care.
by A Fostered Life
We hope you are enjoying this series by A Fostered Life and please watch the first 2 videos of the series if you missed them! In this video installment Christy covers teachers and school staff. Persist is the key word!! Persist for your child and explore all that the school system has to offer.
by A Fostered Life
Building your foster family village, by A Fostered Life, continues today with part 2. We hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this series, and if you haven't watched it we recommend you watch it first.
In this video, Christy discusses not hesitating to take the time needed to find the right people to make up your village. She covers pediatricians, dentist, psychiatrist and more.
by A Fostered Life
A Fostered Life does such a good job in this video series we wanted to post it for all our foster families. In today's video Christy talks about the proactive role of the foster parent to build the village for your child. There are many resources available to you and the positive investment of this village on the child in your care and your family are valuable.
by A Fostered Life
When a child enters your home as a foster child one way to eliminate further trauma is by giving them knowledge of what to expect. What do we do next? What is the routine for mornings and evenings? This video by A Fostered Life shares a great idea that has worked for many foster parents - Visual Schedules!