Learn more about the 1.27 National Network here if you’d like to support the growth of 1.27 Ministries across the country and be part of DESTINATION More Than Enough
In the spirit of Father’s Day, it is important to celebrate and encourage the fathers and father figures in our lives who serve their families, children and community. Fathers and father figures should provide a powerful foundation of respect, trust and love. For many children coming into care, instead of this powerful foundation, there may have been neglect, fear and harshness. As a result, fathers and father figures in foster care may be the first positive male role model a child knows. Below are some suggestions for how to recognize this important role and implement ways to help the foster child build a powerful foundation of respect, trust and love.
On July 26, 2017, Truffles*, 14 and his sister, Cheesecake*, 13 were welcomed into the Humenansky family. (After almost a year with the family, Truffles and Cheescake asked if they could share why more people should consider fostering teens and sibling sets as well as offer some advice on connecting with teens. Their foster mom, Rebecca, also shares some useful advice!
*Nicknames used to preserve confidentiality of children in foster care.
Truffles enjoys the Humenansky’s fat dog, biking, getting money from grandmas at Christmas, sandwiches and funny people. He recently chose to be baptized and his future DESTINATION will likely include working with animals because “they are important!”
Cheesecake’s favorite things include reading non-fiction, art, music and being with her big brother.. Her future DESTINATION includes many possibilities - cosmetology, teaching, social work and being a foster mom!
Are you preparing for Vacation Bible School at your church this summer? Are your volunteer teachers and staff prepared to handle the multitude of behaviors that may come along with having a classroom full of children? Project 1.27 can provide Trauma-Informed Training for church ministry volunteers in preparation for VBS. Many kids come into children’s ministry with a trauma history, not just kids who’ve experienced foster care or adoption. Children may have experienced the trauma of divorce, grief and loss, domestic violence, bullying or because of developmental delays. We've found that Trauma-Informed Training is effective with all children, no matter their background.
Let’s unpack some myths about children’s behaviors and make VBS a safe, nurturing experience for every child.
Exploration and learning is important for all children, but especially for those in foster care. Often times children experiencing the foster care system have had schedules disrupted by trauma or multiple moves, potentially causing them to fall behind in a variety of areas. Summer provides a fun and unstructured environment for foster children to create some fun memories and catch up on their learning in the process. Foster parents and their support systems have the unique opportunity to help the child explore new things and discover new interests.
As a support team member, now is the perfect opportunity to help your families invest in and explore new things together, and maybe even join in on the fun!
Below are some ideas to engage your foster family in summer fun.
Project 1.27 asked Lisa McGinnett, Project 1.27’s Western Slope Director to share about her experiences as a foster and adoptive mom. Lisa and her husband, Paul, have fostered 60+ kids since they began fostering in 2001. Along with their three adopted children, Lisa and Paul are currently fostering an 11-month old and a 4-week old.
Lisa offers these words of wisdom to other foster parents
Tell us about when and why you decided to become a foster parent?
We planned to work with homeless and orphaned children in Bolivia, but I suffered an illness preventing that move. We shifted gears to focus on serving children stateside. Paul always teased about having a “dorm full of kids”. After ten years of marriage and youth ministry, we began fostering, hoping to eventually adopt. Our hearts were broken early on as we tasted what it’s like to fiercely love a child someone else birthed. Through all the ups and downs, God has proven faithful as we continue to serve children in foster care.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to focus on identifying, intervening in, and preventing abuse within our community. Foster families learn about the harsh realities of child abuse and neglect during the training process. Whether we hear it in the news, in biographies, or when those we know share their stories of abuse or neglect, it is sobering and stirs up difficult emotions to hear about the ways that children who live among us are being mistreated.
If you are supporting a foster or adoptive family in their journey, you undoubtedly know someone who has been impacted by abuse or neglect. While you may or may not know the story of the child for whom your family is caring, you may have observed some of the impacts that trauma can have on child behavior and functioning. Although children are incredibly resilient, it makes sense that they may continue to struggle in some of the following areas:
Originally, I was set on adopting a seven-year-old boy who loved sports. Then, God changed my mind as my agency started presenting teen girls who needed a family.
Nadia, who describes herself as a single, 38- year-old Christ follower and big sports person recently added to that description, “Now I’m a mom!” In a recent interview with Project 1.27, Nadia shared about preparing to be a foster parent and recently welcoming The Teenager* into her home.
*Nadia and her new foster daughter have settled on The Teenager as a nickname to keep the teen’s identity confidential during this interview.
What led you to explore fostering?
I’ve always known I wanted to adopt rather than birth kids biologically. In my early 30’s, I started reading about foster care and kids aging out of foster care without a family and the statistics were just awful. Then, I was reading something by pastor and author, Max Lucado, where he shared that if one family out of every Christian community in the US would adopt a waiting foster child, there would be no kids in foster care waiting for families.
How did you decide on a teen girl?
Originally, I was set on adopting a seven-year-old boy who loved sports. Then, God changed my mind as my agency started presenting teen girls who needed a family.
What are some highpoints and low points of your process so far?
Highpoints in the process have included the support I received from P1.27 and my placement agency. I feel confident in my parenting because of the training I received from Project 1.27. I know Project 1.27 cares about me and The Teenager. It’s not just superficial.
The timeline has been one of my low points. There were things that didn’t work out at first and possible placements that fell thru. While waiting for The Teenager to be place in my home, I struggled with the limited communication with her placement team. Sometimes their actions didn’t make it feel like they were there for The Teenager. One example is waiting for two weeks and three email requests to get a response on something. Sometimes I feel like my voice isn’t important to her team as I try and advocate for her. I’m in the trenches with her every day and they check in once a month.
As you were training and preparing, what caught you by surprise?
The awful statistics about kids who age out without a family caught me by surprise.
As did everything I learned about trauma and the impact on kids. Through TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) I even learned about how trauma can change the way a child’s brain looks and how that child responds.
I was also surprised that there wasn’t more involved with becoming a foster parent. 32 hours of training and then you can be a parent. Of course, there’s also the home study and background process after that. And the paperwork!
How did your family respond when you told them you wanted to foster/adopt?
For the most part my family was excited and supportive because I’ve been talking about this for years. My mom was pushing for a younger child, just like I started off wanting a younger boy. Now, as my mom gets to know The Teenager, she’s warming up to the idea of a teen. My nephews and sister-in-law are very excited.
What has it been like having a teenager join your family?
Since I’ve been living on my own for ten years, it’s been difficult to share space with someone else, especially the bathroom. All that hair! It’s a blessing having The Teenager because she can be on her own sometimes. Being a mom is stretching me! I’m growing in patience. I’m an emotional reactor so this is causing me to have to slow down and think before I react to the good and the hard.
The Teenager was with her foster family for five years, a foster mom, foster dad and their adult son. Now it’s the two of us with a new set of rules, going to church twice a week, getting involved in school activities. The Teenager’s foster family was awesome, but different from me. She has to get used to that.
What do you love about parenting a teenager?
I love the independence she has. We do things together of course, but there are also activities we do separately. I love that we can talk about issues and I can help her see other sides that would be lost on a younger kid.
What are your hopes and dreams for The Teenager?
I hope she goes to college or trade school. She’d be the first in her family to attend. My number one hope is for her to realize who she is in Christ. Up to now, her identity has been all about the physical and I want her to know that she’s more than her appearance. I want The Teenager to be happy and know her past doesn’t define her. Her past is a part of her but doesn’t define who she is and who she can be. There is a quote we both love that says, “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” I want The Teenager to live in freedom.
Tell us about your support system
I have a great support system in my church family and Bible study ladies, along with other friends who have been on this journey with me since the beginning. My church family has been praying for me and the child I’m now fostering for two years, starting the day I turned in my foster certification paperwork.
I also have a group of moms I talk to about cultural issues as The Teenager is biracial. We also talk about discipline issues, school issues, all kinds things moms need to know.
I don’t know how you would be a parent without support. It is invaluable.
How have you changed since you started the process?
I have let go of some of my Type A personality traits and learned to compromise in some areas. Giving The Teenager a choice is different than the way I was brought up, but I’m learning I can get a better result if I offer choices. I still need to be the parent, The Teenager needs boundaries and consistency, but I’m approaching this differently.
During the foster certification and placement process, a lady in my Bible Study group told me God was preparing me to be the mom I am supposed to be. For someone who thrives on control, to have absolutely no control of the foster process, especially the placement transition process, helped me realize I had to give God the control. I’ve realized that because of the waiting - for both The Teenager and me, I get to be HER mom. For example, The Teenager, after an unfortunate earlier adoption disruption, was placed back into foster care the same month I turned in my foster parent paperwork.
Adoption. That’s what The Teenager and I both want.
What would you tell other people considering foster care or adoption?
Pray about it and take the first step of obedience. Trust the process. Get your training through Project 1.27.
Why do you think it’s important for churches to be involved?
Oh, man. We are called to help the orphans and widow. Its not an optional thing. It doesn’t mean every Christian is called to adopt or foster, but we are all called to be involved in some way. As one who has been adopted by Christ, I want to show that same type of grace to someone else.
How can we be praying for you?
Pray for discernment, wisdom and patience in parenting The Teenager.
Anything else you want to share?
Don’t let your marital or financial status hold you back from taking this step. Society tells you that you must be married and make $100,000/year. Don’t let something that isn’t really a barrier, be a barrier. Take the first step and you’ll be surprised at how doors will open. People say, “You’re choosing to be a single mom. And I say, “Yes, I’m choosing to be a single mom because this kid needs a family.”
March is Social Worker Appreciation Month! Although you may or may not have direct contact with the social workers on your foster family’s team, there are some ways you can show social workers your gratitude for all they do. Talk with your foster or adoptive family about whether it’s best for you to express appreciation directly or organize the details so your family can offer the appreciation.
Social workers are not just in child welfare. They work in other areas such as schools, hospitals, and businesses. Here are some ideas to show appreciation for the social workers working hard to care for the vulnerable in your community.
When did you meet? July 2013
Where did you meet? Princess Cruise Lines. Andrew was a personal trainer and Janelle was on an Alaskan Cruise with her family.
Who was interested first? Both.
When did you get married? May 2014
Valentine’s Day celebration? Our son was at a birthday party, so we took the three girls ice skating! It was Rose’s and Ella's first time and it was incredible the JOY we experienced seeing their confidence grow and then soar on the ice.
What did you love first about Andrew? Besides his English accent? I love his positive spin on life and entrepreneurial spirit.
What did you love first about Janelle? Janelle has a light about her!
What’s your favorite thing to do together? Outdoor activities- especially skiing and biking. Working out. Traveling whenever we have the chance!
How did you work together to finish the licensing process? We fit it in the nooks and crannies! We had support from another family to help with the kids while we went to training. That was incredible!
How did becoming foster parents impact your marriage? It tested our marriage. We are thankful Project 127 didn’t sugar coat anything in the training. If our marriage, our communication, hadn't already been in a good place, I honestly don’t know if we would have made it through the way we did. We both sought outside counseling/coaching to have outside perspective and wisdom. That was the best money we have spent.
Tell us about your kids. Anja is 10.5, Rose and Kade are both 9, one week apart to the day and hour! Ella is 8. January is our "triplet" month, when the younger three are all the same age. Fun! (But I still haven’t figured out how to plan that many birthday parties.) When we were in Foster Training, we were asked what kind of kids we were hoping to foster. We were being a bit silly and made a comment that we were looking for kids who liked to bike and ski. Well, our two new daughters love nothing more than to bike and ski! So many metaphors for life being tough and God giving us strength to overcome are being learned as the girls have now skied their first "double black" and earned the BLACK ski hat.
How have your kids impacted your marriage? Our marriage has been made richer - because of the tough times, the arguments, the frustrations with each other, the working it out - we feel more grounded, more stable for life's storms.
How do you show your kids how much you love each other? We hug lots in front of them. We talk about how we feel about each other in front of them. We want them to know that we, too, have hard times and God has given us His strength when we feel weak. We assure the kids our marriage is #1 and then it's them. They see us have date nights and take trips just the two of us. Our goal is that they trust our words and feel our love.
What were some fostering challenges you faced together? The system is super frustrating. It was hard to see past the "broken” system" some days, especially when we were so ready for our girls to start building up a more secure identity.
How did you support each other through the hard days as foster parents? This we are passionate about! We “kick each other out” often. We each chose a healthy outlet activity and made sure it was happening every day. Or MOST every day. For Andrew it is getting out on his mountain bike. For Janelle it is hitting the gym first thing in the morning.
What’s one thing you’ve learned about Andrew as you parent together? Andrew is consistent. I knew that about him when we first met on the cruise ship, and as we emailed and spoke on the phone while dating. He was true to his word. Now that we are parents, it is that exact characteristic that allows our kids to thrive and our marriage to be strong.
What’s one thing you’ve learned about Janelle as you parent together? Janelle can handle more than she thought. It is not my job to fix her, but to support her during tough times. Janelle needs her own time and sleep is vital for her to be full of the joys of spring! Janelle brings tenderness and fun to the kids’ lives.
What are some ways your church or support team help you keep your marriage strong? We recently moved to a smaller church and the community has been exactly what we were needing. Many other families in the church have adopted and fostered children. Recently, we shared about adoption during a service and it was very emotional to recap the past three years. The church has been such a support and encouragement to us.
What’s one thing you’d recommend to other couples considering foster care? If you feel called to foster, know that it WILL be hard. Don't be surprised when tough times come your way and you have moments of thinking, "Why am I putting myself through this?" Set up a fantastic counselor or coach ahead of time. The bottom line is foster children don't deserve any of this hardship. It's not easy for these kids. It's not going to be easy for you. That said, God wants you to show up in kids’ lives in the most powerful of ways. We have personally witnessed God on a whole new level as a family, as a couple and personally. Through the storms, we clearly see God's purpose, path and provision.
No one ever looks back on his or her life and says, "I'm so glad I took the easy road."
How can we pray for you and your family? Pray our children would have their identity cemented in Christ. That all four see how God is at work in their lives and the world. Pray they fully experience the joy that comes through hardship, even at a young age.