Spoiler alert: There is nothing in this blog post about kids, so you can skip it if that's why you are here!
This week we held our first foster, adoptive, and kinship family support group. We met an amazing adoptive family through our church whose young son, who was adopted through foster care, was diagnosed with cancer at age 7. He was and still is a HUGE inspiration to all who knew him and the throughout the whole community. It's a story of an amazing transformation from a broken and hurting little child to a boy with a healed and cheerful heart despite his rough start to life, family tragedy, and a diagnosis of terminal cancer. You can see more of his story here. He wanted others to know that small things can make a big difference.
To honor his memory his parents wanted to start a support group for foster, and adoptive families and they honored us by asking us to come on board. Susie's (the moms) vision was to create this amazing place where families could connect and form friendships, and where "childcare provided" would mean so much more. She had a vision that this group would help provide a healing place for these kids who have been through so much. We had two counselors leading groups for teens and elementary children. We had great energetic volunteers with our younger kids and babies. We had 4 therapy dogs and an awesome "thankfulness" craft with Thanksgiving right around the corner. It was a FULL evening with dinner being provided to all the families beforehand. This group goes above and beyond what I would expect from a support group.
Our first evening was a huge success! For us personally, it was so great to meet other foster parents who understand what we're going through and have been there. They know the crazy. The tantrums. The uncertainty. The loss. And they also remind you why you do what you do and why you love it! We probably could have talked all night if there weren't 22 kids dropping like flies at the end of a long day.
My greater hope is that by hosting this group, people at our church will start to consider adoption or foster care, and they will have a group to support them through their entire journey. Already, we've had two people wanting more information about foster care!
I really feel God led me to this church. He even moved it from it's former location to one block away from my house so I wouldn't have the excuse of not wanting to drive there (which I often used). Thanks God! I don't know if this group is the reason why or if it is another reason, but I'm trying to learn to listen to what God is saying and follow where God takes me. I'm learning to say "yes" when God asks me something instead of saying "maybe later". It's scary, and definitely outside my comfort zone, but if I want to follow God (and I do!) then I have to follow God! And by saying "yes" to these things I probably would have said "no thanks!" to a few years ago I am growing so much.
And I've learned so much from Susie and her son Zachi. One person really can make a difference. And everyone can be that person who really makes a difference. Go make a difference!