Partnership Made in Heaven

by Lisa Brewer

Lisa Brewer serves as Executive Director of Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival.

For the past two years, AGAPE of NC has sponsored the Kids’ Activities tent at Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival. The event is the nation’s only bluegrass festival held at a Bible camp promoting Bible study and wholesome recreation. In fact, it might just be the most family-friendly festival around. And that works out well for a partnership between CBC and AGAPE.

More than two thousand guests have visited the festival on the second Saturday of September since AGAPE began sponsoring a children’s area. Multi-generational families with members of all ages have enjoyed the best in bluegrass artists, tasty meals, a classic car show, and a variety of free crafts activities. The AGAPE of NC’s Kids’ Activities tent has featured Bible crafts, recyclables for art projects, a Bible coloring page and free face painting. Each year, a “Save the Date” coloring page has been designed by artist and CBC camper, Melea Womack, of the Charlotte area (she doubles as a face painter).

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“Our involvement with Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival began because we wanted to increase our own organization's profile,” said AGAPE of NC ExecutiveDirector, Kimberly Scott. “The festival gave us a very appropriate venue in which to do that. What makes this a great place for AGAPE to be is the audience. Guests who attend this event believe in family values. And if they have not experienced strong families before, we can demonstrate what they look like here.”

The annual bluegrass festival is a fundraiser for the Bible camp’s capital development and scholarship funds. No child has ever been turned away from Carolina Bible Camp due to an inability to pay. In fact, every camper’s fee is kept low and supplemented by the fundraiser.

Performing artists are chosen carefully by the festival committee to ensure family-friendly listening. Alcohol and tobacco products are not permitted at the Camp at any time, including during the festival.

Carolina Bible Camp is situated on sixty-eight wooded acres in Mocksville, NC. Cabins are rustic in design with modern accommodations including heat, air-conditioning, and private bathrooms. A dining hall with commercial grade kitchen comfortably seats 250 at one time. Outdoor activities include walking trails, in-ground pool (open during summer camp weeks only), beach volleyball, jungle gym, disc golf and more. The largest outdoor shelter is a popular gathering spot for a cappella singing during camping weeks.  During the bluegrass festival, it becomes a Pickers’ Place for instrumentalists who want to “jam.” More than 100 volunteers work together to create a memorable family festival experience for guests.

In addition to sponsoring the Kids’ Activities tent, Scott and other AGAPE representatives promoted AGAPE at a separate booth at the bluegrass festival.

“This has given us a means to engage with festival guests directly,” Scott explained. “We have had many special conversations about exploring foster family service and supporting AGAPE’s mission in various ways."

“We believe in the healing qualities of music, fun, and fellowship,” Scott said. “Those activities are so important to families, and they are highlighted at Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival. With Christ as the foundation of the Camp and the foundation of AGAPE, we know we are at the right place to share Christ as the foundation of the family.”

The seventh annual Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 8, 2018. Performing artists include Grammy winner Alison Brown; acclaimed Bobby Hicks, Mark Kuykendal & Asheville Bluegrass; returning favorite Tim White & Troublesome Hollow; 2017 MerleFest band competition winners The Trailblazers; 2016 MerleFest band competition winners Fireside Collective; the popular Snyder Family Band; and famed pre-war stringband musician Dwight “Sawman” Hawkins. For more information, please contact Lisa Brewer at spchwoman@ aol.com or visit www.cbcbluegrass.com.

Board of Directors Profile: Meet Vice Chairman Joe Hall

By Jordan Upton

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AGAPE of North Carolina could not run as efficiently or productively if it were not for the help of our amazing and diverse staff, volunteers, and board members. The board of directors is made up of various members of the community who help maintain AGAPE’s pursuit of excellence. Each of these members bring a unique yet equally important aspect to the organization, which allows growth, new perspectives, and expert problem solving. The board is made up of various positions, each of which holding a particular purpose and integral for the board to function well. The positions rotate every few years allowing for new faces and fresh ideas to be brought to these posts. The members of the board, who live across parts of North Carolina and in various states across the U.S., meet quarterly either in person or via teleconference to discuss the future plans with AGAPE and to ensure the organization is running at its highest potential.

One of these board members is Mr. Joe Hall, of Claremont, North Carolina. Mr. Hall is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force. After spending 20-plus years traveling the country, Joe and his wife of 34 years, Cathy, ended up in Kansas. There, the couple with their two biological children, fostered a two-month-old daughter, Kimi. Shortly after, Kimi had three other siblings brought in to be fostered by the Hall family. Three years later, all four children were adopted by Joe and Cathy. The family then moved to North Carolina where Joe teaches JROTC at Bunker Hill High School.

Lt. Col. Hall became involved with AGAPE after viewing a presentation former Director Tom Slaughter made at a church service one morning recruiting potential volunteers, foster families, donors, and sharing the message of AGAPE. Shortly after Joe became a board member where he has now served in various capacities including Vice Chairman and Chairman over the past seven years.

AGAPE is blessed to have people such as Lt. Col. Hall be a part of our organization and thank him and his family, as well as families like his, for all of the work they do for AGAPE.

Mayor Grateful To Start Family With Adoption

By Jordan Upton

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On May 22nd, the mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, announced that she has adopted a newborn baby. Mayor Bowser, now 45, became the youngest person and only the second woman to serve in the position when she was elected in 2015. In a statement released today, Bowser announced that she began the adoption process last year and it progressed quickly, allowing her to bring her baby home today. Bowser becomes a single mom with this adoption and she is committed to being a great mother as well as a strong leader for her community. “I am thrilled, nervous, and looking forward to each and every stage... I am so grateful to be able to start my family in this wonderful way” Bowser stated.

Adoption has allowed for Mayor Bowser to fulfill her wish of having a family of her own and additionally gives her newborn baby the gift of growing up in a loving, caring, and supportive home. Bowser is an excellent role model for those who wish to start a family and have exhausted other means and are perhaps exploring alternative routes, and is a champion for the adoption process.

Adoption and foster care changes the lives of all involved. It allows for the parent(s) to love and care for a child that needs it tremendously. AGAPE helps foster parents find the children who need them the most. Placing children into safe, caring environments offers them the best opportunity to grow into the strong, resilient, and important people that every child has the potential to be.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Family/washingt...

A Call for Partnerships

By Jordan Upton

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AGAPE of North Carolina offers a lot of impactful programming for youth and families, and we would love to share more information about our organization with you!

In March 2018, we were pleased to attend the Southern Women’s Show at Wake Technical Community College and connect with women in the Triangle area.

We were excited for the opportunity to outreach more recently in western North Carolina. Early in June 2018, we were able to speak with members of the Abilene Church of Christ in Statesville.

We appreciate the opportunity to meet with people and have important conversations in person. As we increase our efforts to recruit potential foster families and spread the mission of AGAPE, we would welcome the opportunity to share our message with similar organizations.

For example, later in June, we’ll be visiting with members of the Kannapolis Church of Christ. We will also be participating in the annual Juneteenth celebration in Durham on Saturday, June 16.

If your church or community organization would like to hear more about AGAPE and our mission, please contact us! Call our main office at (919) 673-7816, or e-mail our office manager, Kaye Orander (korander@agapeofnc.org) to discuss the opportunities for partnership.

There are children in need in our area, and we believe our community can join together to positively impact their lives.

YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM IS A KEY TO YOUR LONGEVITY AS A FOSTER PARENT

By Jonathan Rockoff 

Jonathan Rockoff is a Training Specialist with the Family and Children’s Resource Program at the UNC School of Social Work.

For years I had the honor of working alongside some of the most selfless people I have ever met, individuals who opened their homes and hearts to children with a multitude of needs. These unheralded heroes I refer to are the foster parents of North Carolina. They are without doubt one of the most precious resources in the child welfare system.

When someone makes the decision to become a foster parent, they embark on one of the most rewarding journeys they will ever take. Yet if they aren’t prepared, this journey can be surprisingly brief. Consider this: one study of data from three states found that between 47% and 62% of foster parents quit fostering within one year of the first placement in their home (Gibbs, 2005).

What is it that enables some families to make it past that first year? In my experience, one of the most important factors is a strong support system.

Your Support System Is Key

During pre-service training, agencies ask prospective resource parents to think about who they have in their life that will support them as they face the challenges that come with fostering. Though this makes a lot of sense, many new resource parents don’t realize how critical this is to their future success. Their vision of a support system is limited to someone to provide occasional respite, answer a question here and there, and be a sounding board.

A support system can be all these things, of course, but it can and should be much more. Each child in care is different. So is every foster family. Each has different needs and types of support that will empower them to success.

Family and Friends

Family and friends are the foundation of support for many resource parents. For example, I have seen a single mother with no prior parenting experience and a full-time job beautifully parent two children under the age of one in large part thanks to her support system.

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While this was an extremely strong-willed and resilient parent in her own right, before accepting the placements, she already had an established and benevolent support system in place. She had a dear family friend and a sister nearby she knew she could rely on, even when times were tough. They were fully on board. She spoke to them before becoming a foster parent and explained what she would need help with. They told her they would help whenever possible, and they lived up to this commitment.

 

Community Groups

The community can also play a big role lifting resource families up. For instance, I have seen families rely on church networks for reassurance, guidance, and support. I’ve also seen businesses and volunteer organizations donate time and tangible items to resource families. At one appreciation dinner, various groups gave their time, food, gifts, and talents to give foster parents an enjoyable evening and to let them know they are valued by their community.

Here’s another example. I knew several families that participated in a support group for foster and adoptive families called Mercy for America’s Children (http://www.mac-cares.org/), which is based in Wake Forest, NC. Once they became licensed, this group gave families opportunities to obtain continuing education, participate in events and trips, and be a part of a network of other foster and adoptive families that could provide support and genuine empathy.

The Role of Agencies

Agencies’ role in supporting foster families should not be overlooked, either. Agencies can best support their families by valuing them, providing trauma-informed training, listening to them, and being responsive. Turnover is less likely when foster parents feel heard and backed by their agency.

I have worked with several families who felt comfortable reaching out to their supervising agency for assistance with challenging child behaviors, guidance, and to serve as a sounding board to constructively solve problems. The families that felt more comfortable openly communicating with their supervising agencies were more likely to stick around and care for more children over time.

Well-supported foster parents are also more willing to share their experience with others in the community, which helps with recruitment.  If it takes a village to raise a child, it may take two villages to raise a child who has experienced trauma. When a foster parent has a strong support system within their family, friends, community, and agency, they gain confidence, are empowered, and can focus on meeting the needs of their children.

I would encourage any foster parent who does not feel supported or who feels stretched thin to reach out to their agency and their natural supports. Regardless of when you read this, there are children in foster care in North Carolina who need you.

 

Source: http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1378

What Can Churches Do to Help AGAPE of N.C.?

By Jordan Upton

One of the greatest assets AGAPE of N.C. has at our disposal is the support and friendship of local churches in our community. The encouragement, volunteer time, and donations received from local, state, and nation-wide partners are invaluable resources that help AGAPE of N.C. provide the greatest possible care in fostering, adoption, and counseling services.

If you are new to AGAPE and are wondering how you and your church can help further our mission, here are a few easy ways you can help be an advocate.

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Donations

AGAPE is grateful for any and all monetary donations that support our continued programs. Gifts may be made online or via check. For more information on donations, please seehttps://www.agapeofnc.org/donate/.

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Normalize the Idea of Fostering and Adoption

There’s a joke about newlyweds constantly being asked by family when they’re going to have kids. It’s played out on television and movies, even in best-selling novels. When these conversations happen in real life, you have the opportunity to discuss alternative family planning. Fostering or adopting isn’t the first idea that comes to most minds when planning for children, but with open, honest conversations, the ideas can be more normalized in today’s society. A better understanding of and a more accepting attitude toward fostering and adopting will benefit those in the system.

Encourage Fostering

Talk to your friends, family, and fellow church members about fostering. Explain how children in crisis could benefit from a stable, nurturing, secure, Christian environment. Encourage others to explore the option of providing comfort and care to children in need.

Volunteering

AGAPE welcomes volunteers who wish to share their skills and passions with us. We hope to create a valuable experience that will benefit both the volunteer and our organization. Please check our list of current volunteer opportunities here: https://www.agapeofnc.org/opportunities/. If you don’t see a role that fits you, please contact AGAPE’s administrative assistant Kaye Orander at 919-673-7816 or korander@agapeofnc.org to express your interest in volunteering and to discuss how you can become part of our mission to serve the children of North Carolina.

Support Those Who Foster

Ask how you can be there for current foster parents: physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually. Monetary donations to AGAPE support our foster parents, but you can be their advocate in other ways too. You could be a shoulder to lean on or a compassionate, listening ear. Pray for the foster parents and their families. Refer them to AGAPE if you feel they need more professional support than you can provide.

Help Spread the Word About AGAPE

The more people who know about our organization, the more people we are potentially able to help. Sharing our blog posts, liking our Instagram posts, following our newsletter, and liking and sharing our Facebook updates will allow us to reach a wider audience. You never know who may see a post you share and how it may affect them. Your sharing could indirectly lead someone to AGAPE to become a donor, volunteer, or foster parent! Spreading the word about AGAPE will help bring awareness to our mission and garner more support of it.

Fostering That Became Adopting

By Jordan Upton

On May 11th, the Friday before Mother’s Day, ABC Evening News with David Muir chose to spotlight the Peters family as their ‘Persons of the Week’. Sharis and her husband, Thomas, wanted children but due to fertility issues they were unable to conceive. Faced with expensive fertility treatments, the couple instead sought other avenues in order to fulfill their desire for children. This led the couple to begin fostering in 2010. Sharis and Thomas were contacted about siblings Miles, 3 years old, and Jasmine, 5 month old. After bringing Miles and Jasmine home, the couple fell in love with the children, and 10 months later, the Peters received another call from their social worker that baby Jade, Miles and Jasmine’s sister, had been born. Baby Jade was the exclamation point to this happy couple’s fostering story. Sharis and Thomas have officially adopted all of the children who are now 11, 8, and 7.

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"Being a foster parent and becoming an adoptive parent has meant everything to me," she said. "There's nothing else I'd rather be doing with my life." Sharis says. She goes on to describe the overwhelming joy she has felt on this journey beginning with fostering and ending with the adoption of her children. Sharis advocates for the importance of fostering, not only for the joy that those who foster feel, but more importantly the need for these children to receive the love and care they deserve.

"You don't have to be perfect to be a foster parent. You don't have to be perfect to be an adoptive parent. You don't have to be rich. You don't have to own your own home. You don't have to be perfect," she said. "You just have to be able to love somebody and accept their love. That's all you really need to do."

AGAPE of North Carolina helps create happy endings just like this with our foster care services, adoption services, and counseling services. If you are interested in enriching your life as well as changing a child’s life in an extraordinary way, are interested in helping promote the AGAPE mission, or want to donate to the organization, please visit www.agapeofnc.org.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/couple-ad...

Foster Care Awareness

By Jordan Upton

May is National Foster Care Month. This national month of recognition began in 1988 when President George H. W. Bush issued the proclamation as a way of shining a national spotlight on the foster care system and to help show appreciation for foster parents.

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While there are countless foster parents who work hard to raise foster care awareness in their communities, they do not receive the same national media attention as do celebrities. International movie stars like Angelina Jolie, Hugh Jackman, and Michelle Pfeiffer have all adopted or fostered children in their lives and have spoken publicly about the joy it has brought them in their lives as well as the importance it holds in the lives of the children. Of this group of celebrity foster and adoptive parents is movie star Sandra Bullock, who has adopted two of her children out of the foster care system.

In an interview with InStyle magazine, Bullock discusses the importance of adopting, especially out of the foster care system. Bullock also discourages the use of the phrase “my adopted child”, stating that the word “adopted” is unnecessary. This is an important distinction to make and one that is looked over frequently. There is a stigma place upon fostered or adopted children when using those kinds of terms and it is essential that these children be made to feel loved, cared for, and respected.

While most of us do not have the ability to discuss these topics with international media outlets, we can still work locally to promote fostering and adopting practices. The need for loving and caring foster parents is not contained only to the month of May, but every day, every month, and every year. So please take a little time out of your day to help promote great organizations like AGAPE of N.C. and help us give every child a forever home.

http://www.instyle.com/news/sandra-bullock-june-cover https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/faq/foster-care-5

Giving Whole-Heartedly!

By Alandya Warren

It is a universal truth that Jesus is the one friend who will stick by your side for eternity; I believe this wholeheartedly.  In the four gospels, more specifically in Mark chapter two, we learn that a paralyzed man desires to see Jesus once he hears of the Messiah's arrival in town. Everyone else in Capernaum shares that same longing and a crowd soon surrounds Jesus as he shares the Word. The paralyzed man garners his four friends to accompany him to see Jesus, but they cannot get to Jesus because of the crowd. At this point, many people would have turned back and settled for something less than what they wanted. But the paralyzed man's friends were adamant about getting him to Jesus. The friends climbed the dwelling place all the way to the top, dug through the roof, and lowered their friend down to the Lord. 

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It is in this story that I, Alandya Warren, long to be that type of friend to those around me. The friends found in the Gospel of Mark saw and knew how to meet their disabled friend's needs, and it was with Jesus. If we genuinely want to be like Jesus - to love the unlovable, forgive the unworthy, and do good to those we can never repay you - it is one of the greatest gifts you can give and experience yourself. 

AGAPE of NC was the organization that was quintessential in the meeting the needs of my heart; which was to give wholeheartedly. 

Note: For her Sweet 16 Birthday in November 2017, the author asked her family and friends to gift donations to AGAPE in lieu of presenting her with gifts! Let us all be so inspired! 

The CHANGE for LIFE You Gave was Awesome!

Director's Update

By Kim Scott

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With many thanks to YOU for responding to our appeals, we can declare AGAPE's Second Annual CHANGE for LIFE campaign a resounding success! Together, you exceeded our financial campaign goal of $70,000 - raising a total of $82,000! That's an almost 31% increase over the previous year's campaign! 

The Second Annual CHANGE for LIFE campaign again challenged donors to save their spare change until churches across North Carolina could collect it on the AGAPE Sundays they designated in December 2017 and January 2018. We also requested continuous prayer over all the other donations given monthly, quarterly and annually each year in support of AGAPE's mission.  

Our social media outreach focused on raising awareness about all the opportunities to make a CHANGE for LIFE! Some of those efforts included: 

- Allowing everyone to "meet" some of our foster families by sharing videos

- Launching our first GIVING TUESDAY appeal last November

- Working with WQDR on commercials that aired throughout November and December to communicate the need for more foster parents.

The positive impact of your faithful support is already evident in 2018 with:

- New foster families becoming licensed

- Additional foster children being placed into these homes

- New adoptions

- Additional opportunities to provide Christian counseling to members of our community.

Our gratitude goes out to you all for believing and participating in AGAPE's calling to place foster and adoptive children in safe, loving, Christian homes.  

Women Who Helped Pave The Way

By Jordan Upton

In 1980, the week of March 8th was declared International Women’s History Week by President Jimmy Carter. This historic week was established to honor the great female leaders who fought for the rights of women and for equality for all such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Sacagawea. This historic week was eventually extended to the entire month of March and new additions of great women who impact our society are written in the history books daily.

AGAPE of N.C. would not be as successful as it is today without the help of some truly inspiring women who helped pave the way for advancements in foster care, adoption, and counseling services. Here are three women who played vital roles in altering the landscapes of these areas for not only women but for everyone involved in them.

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Edna Gladney, born in 1886, was an advocate for children’s rights and the improvement of conditions for disadvantaged children. Edna and her husband helped establish the Texas Children’s Home and Aid Society in 1910 and she would be the superintendent until 1961. The Texas Children’s Home would later be renamed the Gladney Center for Adoption. In 1936, Mrs. Gladney lobbied in Texas for the removal of the word “illegitimate” from children’s birth certificates, removing a long-standing stigma placed on children placed into adoption. Gladney would also successfully campaign for adopted children to receive the same inheritance rights as biological children as well as the recognition of being legally adopted as opposed to the children being “under long-term guardianship”. Edna Gladney fought her entire life for the rights of disadvantaged and adopted children and she radically changed the face of the field.

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Melanie Klein was an influential psychologist who dramatically changed the field of child psychology. Klein, born in 1882 in Austria-Hungary, worked as a peer to Sigmund Freud and was a lead in psychoanalysis theory, becoming the first person to use this kind of therapy with children. Klein’s direct work with children helped disprove some controversial theories some psychologists, like Freud, had of children. Thanks to Klein’s work, we are better equipped to understand the needs and wants, emotionally and mentally, of children in far more ways than we were previous to her groundbreaking work. Not only did Klein alter the face of children’s psychology, but of psychology as a whole.

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Edith Cowan was born in Australia in 1861. Cowan had a turbulent and unpleasant upbringing and because of this, she would dedicate her life to the rights of women and children. Cowan helped establish the Karrakatta Club in Perth, Australia in 1894, making it the first women’s club in the country. This club helped women find their own voices to lobby against the injustices they felt were being perpetrated against women and children. She also helped to form the Women’s Service Guilds in 1909 and was a co-founder of Australia’s National Council of Women. Later, Cowan helped to establish the Children's Protection Society and devoted her time to advocate against children being tried as adults in the court system. Her role dramatically influenced the implementation of children’s courts in Australia, and Cowan would serve on the bench for eighteen years, making her one of the first female Justices of the Peace ever. In addition to her role in the role of children in the judicial system, she also strongly advocated for educational reform in order to advance and emphasize the importance of knowledge in children.

While there are countless other women who have influenced the various areas that AGAPE of N.C. focuses on, these three women deserve to be lauded and showcased. We here at AGAPE we applaud strong and courageous women and are indebted to all who advocate for the rights and equality of all. 

This Is Us: and the Depiction of Foster Care on Television

By Jordan Upton

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NBC’s hit show “This Is Us” brings experiences of adoption and foster care to mainstream audiences. The show has been praised for its accurate portrayal of the issues from many perspectives - adoptive parents, adopted children, foster parents, children in foster care, and the parents whose children are taken from them and placed into foster care.

In the first episode, the viewer is introduced to Jack and Rebecca, who are expecting triplets. When one child is stillborn, the couple finds out that another baby had been surrendered at the hospital that very day. They see it as a sign they are meant to adopt the baby and still have three children, triplets celebrating the same birthday. Viewers follow Jack and Rebecca’s storyline as they become Randall’s adoptive parents. Their trials aren’t sugar-coated for easy consumption, but show “real tensions that exist”, says Jason Weber of the nonprofit Christian Alliance for Orphans. Early on, Rebecca explains her struggles connecting with their adopted son by saying, “I grew the other two inside of me; he feels like a stranger.” The honesty in these scenes draws emotional responses from viewers.

Randall’s storyline as an adopted son doesn’t shy away from his inner struggles between fully accepting and being loyal to his adopted family, and his quest to find his biological family.

In season two, the show begins to tackle experiences of foster care. The show highlights Randall and his wife’s arguments, hesitations, and ultimate decision to foster in a way that reflects real life. Viewers are introduced to their first foster daughter, Deja, and see flashbacks of her story: multiple foster homes, carrying her only belongings from place to place in a trash bag, abuse from former foster parents. These scenes are heartbreaking and even more tragic because of their accuracy. 

It Should Just be Called Care

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.

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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! 

Teaching Kids Not to Say Bad Words

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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. 

Source: https://www.thespruce.com/teach-kids-to-av...