Building Your Foster Family Village, Part 2

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. 

Building Your Foster Family Village

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. 

Tip for New Foster Parents: Visual Schedules

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! 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEH11xdHr5...

What do Youth Appreciate about Foster Parents?

An interview with teens in care

by Megan Holmes

matthew-gerrard-349932.jpg

If you are a foster parent have you wondered about the impact you are making?  Maybe you just have not been able to see the difference you made.  This article is the encouraging word you've been looking for! Megan Holmes wrote this article based on interviews she did with teens in foster care and as she said, "Although it may seem as if your foster or adopted youth is easily angered, agitated, and frustrated with you, know that they greatly appreciate you for your genuine concern. This is something some youth have not yet experienced while in care."

Source: http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1023

A Leap of Faith

by Kevin Kolbe

One AGAPE of NC's fostercare families describes fostering as "a leap of faith". Meet the Waters family in this month's video. They share how they see the impact they are making in the children in their care. Fostering, adoption or giving to Change for Life is a way everyone can make an impact!

Our annual giving funds support the placement of foster and adoptive children across the state, the ongoing care and training of our foster and adoptive families, and our efforts to raise awareness of the services AGAPE of NC provides to children and families in North Carolina. 

AGAPE of NC is a 501-c3 organization. Your gift is tax deductible. You can find more information about giving to AGAPE of NC on our website at agapeofnc.org/donate.

Aging Out of the Alabama Foster System

by The Fostered Butterfly

nicolas-barbier-garreau-286018.jpg

This blog is the hard reality of one girl's experience.  She is now working as an advocate for foster children and her story is compelling and worth reading.  We can and must learn from the past if we want to do better in the future and the children in our care deserve our best. 

"By the end of my senior year, I lost both parents, failed my high school graduation exam, had no money, no transportation, no support system (nor friends or family) and my foster parents did not want anything to do with me, as they told me, “I’m not daughter material and I will never be.” The Department of Human Resources stated that if I wanted to exit the foster system, I was to uphold I steady job and place to live, with letters of recommendations to go with. Well, I met a potential roommate who would let me rent a room for a reasonable price and I located a job at a local food restaurant in Troy, AL. It didn’t work out with the job because of transportation and I had called and applied everywhere I could think of, without transportation.”  

AGAPE of NC needs your help to address situations just like this here in North Carolina.  This is why we are launching two homes that will cater to the independent living environment for young adults (18-21 years old). One of the homes is located in the Winston Salem area and will be accepting males 18-21 years of age from all over the state. The other home is located in the Durham area and will accept young women 18-21 years of age from all over the state. While we are excited to expand our services this is just the beginning and we continue to look for couples and singles that would be interested in serving this population.

Source: https://thefosteredbutterfly.com/2017/06/0...

Can I Serve AGAPE if I’m Not in Social Work?

by Lydia Huth

Do you feel called to serve the foster children or adoptive families in your community, but don’t have a background in social work? No matter what your previous experience, you still have skills that can be invaluable to our mission.

Not all of AGAPE’s staff members and volunteers come from a background in social work. For example, administrative assistant Kaye Orander has experience as a corporate law paralegal but is now sharing her talents with AGAPE. “If you’re passionate or interested,” Orander explained, “contact us and let us know your background. You may be exactly what we need! Our staff has lots of wonderful ideas but limited resources, so we may have a project that we need to do, but can’t complete yet.”

Even if you can’t spend time working with AGAPE, you can serve through being a connector. If people in your network have talents that you think could benefit AGAPE, encourage them to reach out to us! You may be instrumental in bringing someone to our team at just the right time.

Of course, no matter what your background is, you can always pray for AGAPE and the people with whom we work. Pray that God’s will may be done in AGAPE and that the families and children in our community would find the support, strength, and healing that they need.

If you would like to get involved or have any questions about serving with AGAPE, please contact Kaye Orander, our administrative assistant, at 919.673.7816 or korander@agapeofnc.org.

Church Families open Homes to Children caught in Opioid Crisis

By Gracie Bonds Staples - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ian-schneider-66374.jpg

This article is about a group in Georgia that is doing work through churches for children and families similar to AGAPE of NC.  But it is not just a problem in Georgia or North Carolina.

Nationwide, the number of children in foster care increased 8 percent from 397,000 in 2012 to 428,000 in 2015, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Why churches? AGAPE of NC is prayerfully seeking safe homes and forever families where children will experience the hope, healing and the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

Source: http://www.myajc.com/lifestyles/parenting/...

Igniting a Spark

by Kim Scott

cristian-escobar-297114.jpg

Thirty-one percent of Christians consider becoming foster parents, while only 3% follow through and become licensed foster parents. This statistic should resonate within the soul of every Christian given that Jesus calls all of His followers to care for the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned. I know that this is not an easy decision, but I want to share with you all a few reasons to seriously pray and use discernment if you have ever considered becoming a foster parent. I believe that when we align our wills with God’s will for our lives and make room in our home for someone without a family, we are showing God’s love in a very tangible way. This love—God’s love—cannot be understated.

First, it’s important to recognize that becoming a foster parent is not only about you, it’s also about loving vulnerable kids and families. Many people feel like they may get too attached to the children they are fostering and fear the hurt they might feel if the child is reunited with their family. I understand why one might be afraid. But we must ask ourselves: Don’t these kids, like all children, deserve someone who will be attached to them and will love them through the difficulties they may be facing? Foster parenting is about providing love and having compassion for a hurting child. To be sure, this does not mean that becoming a foster parent is easy. In times like this, it is important to remember that God does not call the equipped— God equips the called. Even though it may not be easy, it will be worth it! Foster parenting is one way we can be the hands and feet of Jesus. In other words, it is one way we can do the work of Christ. It provides the golden opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ in a very practical way, which could make an eternal difference in the life of the kids and their biological families. Imagine the impact on the children as they hear prayer and the word of God in their new home. Imagine the peace the biological families would feel knowing that their children are in a loving place. Although there will be struggles, I believe that the efforts will pale in comparison to the significant impact that you could have on their lives and your own. God has a plan and a purpose for each of their lives, and you get to play a small, but vital role in helping them and their purpose. Every child has a destiny designed by God found only in an identity with Him.

There is a great need for families willing to welcome these kids into their homes so they may have the chance to discover a relationship with Christ and become all that God has called them
to be. Being able to pray for and with the kids in your home, while watching them begin to pray and develop their relationship with Jesus through what you have modeled, is an eternal reward. You can sow the seeds of faith into their lives that will reap an eternal harvest. Watching the kids learn to pray and begin praying for their biological parents produces an indescribable joy. Knowing that you have provided love, safety, prayers, and care for a child as they are navigating through their circumstances is one of life’s greatest rewards.

Becoming a foster parent provides so much opportunity to share the Gospel. The light of Christ is at its brightest when people see people loving children. You can change the world one child at a time through foster parenting. This a very powerful ministry. My prayer is that this brief essay will ignite a spark in you, and that you will seek God’s will with discernment to see if this is a ministry He is calling you to. 

Four Ways to Pray for Adoptive and Foster Families

by Lydia Huth

No matter where you are in life, you can support the adoptive and foster families in your community through your prayers. After talking with adoptive parents and AGAPE staff members, these four points have been highlighted as great ways to start praying for families in your community.

olivia-snow-265289.jpg

1. Pray for emotional, mental, and spiritual preparedness.

Adoption and foster care bring many unknowns, and it is impossible for a family to plan for all possibilities. Pray that the family may have the reassurance that they are in God’s hands and that they will be equipped to handle whatever may happen.

2. Pray for a smooth transition.

Unexpected or not, changes will come as families transition into adoption and foster care. Pray that the development will be free of challenges and obstacles.3. Pray for confidence and strength in God.

Pray that the family will place their trust in God and that they will rely on Him to provide their strength. Also, pray that they may have faith in His plan and reliance on His goodness.

4. Pray that they will be examples of Christ to one another and to their family’s new additions.

If a family has been called to adoption or foster care, they have the opportunity to live like Christ in all-new situations that have a deep impact on those close to them. Pray that they will be able to live vulnerable, honest Christian lives that will help children see the reality of God’s love.

With these four concepts as your jumping-off point, look for how you can specifically pray for the families in your community. Reach out to them and ask for certain places where they need prayer, and don’t forget to follow up with them after time has passed to let them know that you are still thinking of them.

Foster Care is Always Changing

by Kim Scott

alexis-brown-85793.jpg

Foster care is changing constantly and in order to continue to meet the needs of children and families in our state, we must adapt as well. Currently, there are more than 10,000 children in Foster care in North Carolina which is a 25% increase from previous years. Statistics show that 15% of the children in foster care remain in care longer. Subsequently, more than 500 children age out of foster care without finding permanent homes. When children don’t have permanent homes it leads to higher rates of homelessness, incarceration, unemployment and increased opportunities for these children to be victimized.

North Carolina lawmakers passed a law in 2015 to extend foster care services to 18-21-year-old young adults who are currently in foster care. This law became effective January 2017.

In light of the new law, AGAPE will be launching two homes that will cater to the independent living environment for young adults (18-21 years old). One of the homes is located in the Winston Salem area and will be accepting males 18-21 years of age from all over the state. The
other home is located in the Durham area and will accept young women 18-21 years of age from all over the state. While we are excited to expand our services this is just the beginning and we continue to look for couples and singles that would be interested in serving this population.

The Wounds You Cannot See

by Kia Carter

ewelina-karezona-karbowiak-160764.jpg

Physical wounds often get more attention than our emotional ones. I believe this is because we can see our physical wounds and so can everyone else, so we know that we must tend to them.
For many of us, if we can not see the injury we assume there must not be a wound that needs
healing. However, the most significant wounds we suffer are often hidden from our sight. Physical wounds can leave physical scars, but emotional wounds scar our ability to trust others. To be sure, both types of wounds always leave a mark, but emotional hurt erodes trust and chips away at relationships.

At its root, trauma emerges out of our woundedness. This can be one of the toughest parts about fostering or adopting. As a foster parent, you have to earn back the trust that you never violated; you must work to redeem the hard places that you never created. You must
heal wounds that you never inflicted. Emotional wounds can heal, yet the scars will always remain. However, I believe that the scares of these children are capable of telling a beautiful story of redemption.

No child enters foster care or becomes available for adoption unless something beyond their control has gone wrong. Those who gave life to the child, who was supposed to care for them, protect them, teach them, and support them could not, would not or did not. As such, the parent-child relationship, one of the foundational and most important of all earthly relationships, was broken or severed. This is an emotionally-wounding experience. We want our children’s story to be one of beauty and gain and not one of loss and pain. But we must remember that God is not writing fairy tales with our lives. God is writing a real-life story that involves broken people living in a broken world. But this story does not end in brokenness—the story of God is a story of hope.

Foster care and adoption is an invitation to enter a child’s world, an invitation to enter into the trauma that they have faced and become an agent of God’s healing power. It is in this healing that we find hope. Dr. Karyn Purvis, the author of the book, The Connected Child, reminds us that children who were harmed in a relationship will come to experience healing through positive relationships. God’s grace and redemption entered the relational trauma of humanity and into our lives.

A miracle is an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God.
The miracle of foster care and adoption is that through loss, and despite it, God chooses God’s infinite goodness and kindness to make something beautiful—weaving the broken pieces of our lives together into a place where hope lives and wounds heal. 

God Is Good

by Kim Scott

God is good. AGAPE of NC is excited to announce how God is using our ministry to minister to the families of North Carolina. We currently have 20 children in our foster homes that are being
afforded the opportunity to know and see God working in their lives. We have opened the Salem House in Winston-Salem this month. The Salem House will cater to the 18 to 21-year-old young adult males as they develop independent living skills.

tanja-heffner-259382.jpg

We have 16 foster homes across the state and we have 5 families currently in training. While we are able to help many children/families in crisis the need continues to be great, and unfortunately there continue to be a shortage of foster families. Please pray for more families with a desire to serve in this capacity.

Finally, we will be offering respite training classes for those who are not ready to foster full time but want to provide babysitting and weekend relief to full-time foster parents. Please look for more information on the website or let us know you're interested in our *contact us* page.

Our Change for Life campaign has begun and ends December. This year’s goal is $100,000. Please be praying and making plans for this important campaign. Thank you, for your continued prayers and support over the rebuilding years. 

We Said Yes

video by Kevin Kolbe

The Spencer's found being foster care parents to be a simple choice saying "we saw the need" and they said yes!  They describe the experience as "the greatest thing we've ever done and the hardest thing we've ever done at the same time".  Meet this wonderful family and consider if saying yes to foster care is for you.

"Change for Life" changes a child's life with every donation. Our annual giving funds support the placement of foster and adoptive children across the state, the ongoing care and training of our foster and adoptive families, and our efforts to raise awareness of the services AGAPE of NC provides to children and families in North Carolina. 

AGAPE of NC is a 501-c3 organization. Your gift is tax deductible. You can find more information about giving to AGAPE of NC on our website at agapeofnc.org/donate

Kids In Care Need You – Maybe, Not The Way You Think

by Dawn Saffayeh

Dawn Saffayeh is Executive Director of HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services, helping over 6,000 New York children, adults and families to overcome the challenges of family crises, addiction, mental illness and poverty.
teddy-kelley-98551.jpg

Many older youth in foster care are no longer looking for adoptive parents, but they are looking for adults they can count on.  In this article, Dawn Saffayeh from Foster Focus Magazine is debunking some of the misconceptions about what kids in foster care need.

The four needs that Dawn discusses in this article are exactly what we at AGAPE of NC are striving to do with Salem House opening this fall for boys in foster care ages 18-21 years old. Read more about Salem House in a couple of our previous blogs from this summer! 

Let Me Tell You About My Family

by Leah Leason

Leah is a wife, writer, and foster care alumni.  You can find her blog at www.pronouncedleah.blogspot.com

jodyhongfilms-279698.jpg

In this article by Leah Leason from Foster Focus Magazine, Leah reaches into what really belonging can mean to someone raised in the foster system.  She quotes "All my life I felt like I grew up with a giant neon sign plastered on my forehead that flashed “FOSTER KID” over and over. No matter how hard I tried to fit in it always seemed like I was different and didn’t quite blend in as well as I would have liked".  

Foster Alumni groups are making a real difference giving those raised as foster children a community.  Leah found a group near her saying "After meeting this group of foster alumni I realized I wanted more. Connecting with people who have had a similar past, after living for so long feeling isolated, was one of the most validating and moving things I’ve ever experienced".

Growing up throughout the foster care system in Minnesota has inspired Leah to write and share her experiences and life. She hopes to inspire others to speak up about their experiences, break social stigmas surrounding foster care, and shed some light on an often neglected group of people. Check out her article here.  

The Biggest Blessing of Them All

by Kristin Chenoweth

award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth writes for WhoSay about her experience as an adopted child.

n-KRISTIN-CHENOWETH-628x314.jpg

In this article, Kristin gives us a glimpse into her life as an adopted child.  She says "if you’re thinking about adopting a child, remember that it’s a gift you’re getting and it comes with just as much responsibility as if you had your child biologically. On top of that, it’s a beautiful blessing that you were chosen to take care of this child and become his or her parent."  We think you will enjoy this article if you are thinking of adoption, fostering or already adopted. 

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-chen...

Reasons & Ways to Get Involved

by Kim Scott

Over the past five years, North Carolina has seen a rise in the number of children entering the foster care system. An increase in opioid abuse and childhood poverty are two main factors contributing to the state’s surge of children in need of stable foster homes. These staggering numbers require that we respond in action. God’s call for us to defend and care for these children. We can no longer passively acknowledge the problem. We are called to actively become a part of the solution.

bruno-nascimento-255699.jpg

As we begin to look for different areas to get involved and new places to serve, let’s continue to be mindful of God’s call to help those in need. In Psalms 82:3-4 God reminds us, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” And in James 1:27 we read that, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

If you, or someone you know, feels burdened for children in North Carolina who need safe homes and forever families, please prayerfully consider becoming involved in foster care and adoption. Involvement comes in many forms. For some, it will mean becoming a licensed foster parent or deciding it is finally the right time for your family to pursue adoption. For others, it may mean giving your time as a volunteer or donating funds to support the growth of AGAPE’s impact. Your prayers asking God to bring AGAPE strong Christian families who are willing to provide homes to children cannot be underestimated. If you are interested in getting involved, please visit the *contact us* page.