Tim and I are regular people. We are your every day family trying to live an everyday life for the Lord. We were called to foster care 17 years ago. We had never been around or cared for children with medical needs or special needs. Neither of us ever had any training or schooling in the medical field.This is a copy of the picture that was in our foster care file from the day we graduated from taking foster care classes in 1996!
When we opened for foster care, we actually checked the box on our opening paper work, indicating that we didn’t think we could take care of children with special needs. I know this sounds kind of cold now. But when you open for foster care you fill out a paper telling DFCS what ages, issues and children you would feel most comfortable taking in. So everyone is on the same page. They are not supposed to call you with children that fall outside of the categories on your list. As what you listed is what you know you could care for best. Some families might be an older couple that are beyond the baby years and are called to take in only teens and do a wonderful job with them. Some families only take in school age children, as both adults work in the home and then the children are in school all day while they are at work. There is a need for all the different families, that have specific age children, they are called to take in. We had put down that we only felt we could take in children under five years old and with no special needs. It was solely based on the fact we felt inadequate and under qualified to care for any child with a special need. Looking back at that I laugh inside. It is amazing how sometimes we tell God what we think we can do or handle and He rocks our world and shows us what we truly can do, with Him working thru us. God is so good!
It was not until we got a call for a child that was special needs, that DFCS could not find placement for, that we took into our home our first child with special needs. We were told this child's sad story and heard the desperation in the case workers voice, that she could not seem to find a placement for this child. We told the caseworker we would take her until another placement could be found.
Wow, little did we know what a life changing decision that would be that day. Or that we would fall hopelessly in love with that child. We awoke to a whole new world we knew nothing about, had never even known existed before. After the first day of her being in our home, we all knew she was not going anywhere. We loved her so much.
The first thing, we quickly saw was that there was a great need for people willing to take in children with special needs. Not only for fostering but for adoption as well. The second thing we learned was the ropes of advocacy for these children. How to advocate and with whom, for the best equipment, therapy and health care.
If we had not said yes to that placement, we would not have adopted that first little girl making her our first daughter!
We most likely would have never taken in or adopted all the rest of the wonderful children God blessed us with. We would not have the family we have today. I can't even imagine...God used Faith Anne to change us and our lives forever. Thank you God!
Tim and I soon had a long deep talk. Our hearts were touched and broken for children with special needs. We soon called our agency and told them that we would still do straight foster care but would like to focus more on children with special needs as they came into care. Our "take in" list soon changed from 0-5 years old, "straight foster care"... to any age child, any ability. By the time we stopped doing foster care 9 1/2 years later, we were the family known in the area for doing "medically fragile" foster care. All the glory to God!
Let me share for a moment the big inhibition that had hindered us from the start. The thing that made us not even think to even try to do medically fragile/special needs foster care. The biggest scary thing that had hindered us from taking in these children to begin with, was us feeling under trained to care for them. It was a huge fear. We soon learned that just as parents who have children born to them with special needs are not pre-trained. Neither are most foster parents. Parents that have children with special needs born to them and foster parents that have a child with special needs placed with them are all trained as they go along. Whew…that took a huge weight off taking in children in the future. The hospital, nurses and physicians train all parents as they go along. Knowing this, gave us faith and took a lot of those feelings of stress and inadequacy off of us, as we said yes and took in each child that was presented to us. We were taught or trained on each child's care before we took them home. Like trachs. I had never taken care of a person with a trach or changed a trach in my life. But I was trained on trach care as a foster mom, for a foster child with a trach, before she came to my home. I was trained for the first time on G-tube care, on my foster child that had just revived a G-tube… just like any other parent whose child just got one. We learned as we went along.
Now, from taking in so many children with so many different needs we know how to do a lot of different things medically. We know a lot about different therapies now, the terminologies they use, how and why different things help different children because we have lived thru it with different children over the years. We have learned and grown so much.
I am sharing this today as I don’t want anyone to ever think because you are not a nurse or have never had any medical training, that you could never care for or adopt a child with a special needs. If you have God...you can do it! The secret is... the truth is…all it takes is love. The love and desire to help a child that is placed with you and desire to see that child be the best they can be. Just like how we all feel about our children that were birthed to us. If you have that love, God will help you every step of the way and bless and fill your life like you never thought possible.
Someone might think they can not afford it. We could never afford what we do either with out help. My husband is a manager of a Chick-Fil-A and I am a stay at home mom. But, when you foster or adopt a child with special needs thru the state, they provide medical insurance for that child till they are 18. Or 21 if they further their education. Often they also provide a monthly child support to help offset costs because of their special needs. Money that can be used to buy a special formula they might need that is expensive or for that pair of leg braces that Medicaid won’t pay for because your child went thru a growth spurt. Also, adoption thru the state is often very low cost or even free. The government wants homes for these precious children and will help in many ways to make it possible for you to be able to adopt them. Even providing some nursing for some of the very hardest cases. (children on a vent, especially fragile or who are terminal)
There are many children around the world that are considered "special needs" that are waiting for a family. In some countries many times these children live in horrible conditions. In some countries they don't get the kind of care and respect as a human being that they should. I have never went thru the process of international adoption so can not go into any detail based on experience but can share a few websites or blogs to check out if you are interested.
I wanted to share this today as encouragement. As November is Adoption Awareness Month and maybe somewhere out there, someone is going to read this and be thinking about or taking that slightly intimidating step into the world of foster care or adoption and never had considered taking a child with a special need. Please pray and consider the area of "special needs" domestic foster care /adoption. You will be trained as you go along and I guarantee, it will change you forever.
Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
May we all listen to God and step forward to be the part of the body of Christ we are called to be.