Let's Celebrate! ...it's the series finale of "Confidentiality and Foster Care!"

Let's Celebrate! ...it's the series finale of "Confidentiality and Foster Care!"

Foster parents, let’s celebrate the children in our care!

Let’s celebrate BIG! Let’s celebrate often!


And since we know celebration can and does exist outside of social media,

let’s celebrate privately.


Y’all remember that time I was a Christmas villain?

Please know this: I needed to celebrate my brand new foster son that Christmas morning, and he needed to be celebrated. He was worth celebrating, and we were overjoyed for such an opportunity. It wasn't the photo that broke confidentiality, as it didn’t reveal his identity in any way. And it wasn't our BIG celebration that broke hearts. The public privacy setting broke confidentiality and the public words of celebration broke hearts.

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Achieving Confidentiality in Foster Care

Achieving Confidentiality in Foster Care

Please know, I did not come to this place easily, nor did I want to arrive here. I'm a photographer, and I happened to have the two best cheeks on earth living with me. I longed to share photos, I longed to share specific prayer needs, and I also just longed to share him. I just knew that if people experienced his precious, sweet perfection, they would be less inclined to fear foster care, and more inclined to sacrifice everything to love these children...

I still believe that to be completely true, but at some point there was a shift in my thinking... As much as I believed his cuteness could convince every person in this country to look into foster parenting, this one constant thought just wouldn't stop badgering me: that is not his job. He didn't sign up for this. I did.

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Confidentiality and Identity in Foster Care

Confidentiality and Identity in Foster Care

We had a sitter once who asked about a friend’s newly adopted child, not by the child’s name or status as a son or daughter, but by the child’s ethnicity. In that very moment, I realized that I needed to be much more confidential about the reasons our foster child was in our care. Because the reasons he came into care did not define him then, and they don’t define him now. Those obstacles are not his identity, nor is the fact that he was in foster care at all. His identity is found in Christ, and in Christ alone. Sometimes I wonder if by sharing details about our foster children, we are unknowingly allowing a large misunderstanding population to assign them a false identity that will follow them the rest of their lives, along with all the stereotypes that will jump on for the ride.

No, actually… I don’t wonder if that happens. I know that happens, because I’ve seen it happen.

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That Time I Was a Christmas Villain (a series on confidentiality in foster care)

That Time I Was a Christmas Villain (a series on confidentiality in foster care)

If you work in the medical field, or in social work, law, education, etc... you know this:

Confidentiality matters.

It matters for very obvious reasons and for SO many reasons beyond what is completely obvious.

I'm writing about this topic from a foster parenting perspective... One that I didn't always understand or hold for myself... at least not until I became a foster parent and loved not only the child in my home, but also his mom, his brother and sister, his grandparents, his great grandparents, his cousins, his aunts and his uncles...

To be completely honest, I hadn't thought too much about any of these people beyond him and his mom, who, in my pre-foster parenting ignorance, I assumed some pretty terrible and completely false things about.

So when it came to sharing his chubby cheeks and thighs for days, what could it hurt, right? Guys, it was Christmas time. WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO?? How could I keep this gift to myself when all I wanted to do was tell the world what a blessing and gift I had received!?!? Sooo... naturally I did the obvious... what any proud new mom would do: I shared his cute little tush on Facebook.

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Amazing Grace!

I believe a few of God's great graces in these 100 degree Louisiana summers are watermelon, backyard sprinklers, and, most importantly, SNOBALLS!

Last year, on this very day, my brand new family of four enjoyed these graces together after celebrating Jaiden's adoption! 

And because I'm obsessively sentimental, we did the exact same three things today....

It. Was. Perfect.

And just a little while ago, rocking my beautiful son during the last few minutes just before bed, I read him the letter I wrote him last year on this day last year... the day his name changed and he became mine forever.

He wiggled pretty consistently and fussed here and there, because he really, really wanted to read We're Going On a Bear Hunt... but every few minutes he would settle back into my lap, notice one of the photos, and peacefully listen for several sentences at a time... and each time my voice cracked (because obviously I was crying), he would looked up at me and ask, "OK, mom?" "More than OK, sweetheart" ...and then the cycle would begin again.

These moments define our daily life this past year: constant motion and activity, lots of strong opinions, all of us do our fair share of fussing, loads and loads of all-day-long snuggling, and moment after moment is cloaked in the kind of love and compassion that makes a two year old know he needs to ask his mama if she's ok.

Daily reminders of God's grace in my life, y'all.... not the snoballs and watermelon kind of grace, but the truly amazing grace that constantly floods over us from a God we get to be loved by!

As much as I love our adoption day traditions, what I love SO much more is the opportunity to look back on and revel in the grace God has shown me in choosing me to be Jaiden's mommy. I didn't create him or carry him, and if I had he wouldn't be who he is today. I thank God daily for his first mommy, the woman he shares a face and whole lot of spunk with, and who loves him in a way that my heart will never be big enough to grasp. 

...and to be honest, when it comes to grasping the grace of God in this beautiful family I've been given, there are moments that I feel a little ill-equipped to parent this rambunctious, energetic, and VERY spirited two year old... and not totally sure I deserve the opportunity to get to try.

...and then there are the moments when I know I'm completely undeserving and ill-equipped to parent him. The moments when he's more athletic than I can even comprehend, or when he smiles that mischievous smile and I know I should discipline him, but OH.MY.GOSH...that face is entirely too much cuteness. Or when he's running circles around me for twelve hours straight and, y'all, I'm just... tired. All those times when he's mad, or sad, or having a meltdown for no known reason in the middle of the night, and this boy wants to be nowhere but in my arms. He may be kicking, hitting, flailing and screaming, but he will not let me let go of him... and I don't know what to do, but I know I don't deserve him.

...and I'll never deserve him. And I'll never be able to equip myself well enough to be the best parent, the parent he deserves. 

 ...but I'm his mom. And I was chosen to be his mom before the foundation of the earth. What a gift! What a incredible blessing and responsibility! And, y'all, what grace! Grace from a God who equips me with HIS armor and HIS wisdom and HIS love and HIS guidance and a community of HIS children to hold my arms up when they just want to drop in exhaustion and weariness from the fear of letting this boy down.

Our journey through foster care and adoption were truly amazing. The foster and adoption community have blessed me beyond belief. My son's first family is an incredible gift... truly incredible! Being Jaiden's mommy is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been entrusted with. The Giver of grace has used these experiences and people to shape our family, to shape me... and to very literally shower us with grace like rain! He has shown me grace from so many angles, each one pointing directly back to Himself and the greatest act of grace in the history of the world... 

Friends, at the end of the day and at the culmination of adoption, the greatest grace in all of this isn't Jaiden and I being chosen for each other... the amazing grace of the Gospel is being chosen to be His Child. Because, y'all, you and I... we were wretches when He saved us, we were lost when He found us, we were completely blind when He opened our eyes to what the amazing grace of Jesus is really about. It's about Him. It's about a death that we deserved but, instead, was sentenced to the Son of God in our place. It's about the Creator of the universe coming to this earth as a man and dying because of our mess, not His. It's about Him willingly seeking out our mess and making it His on the cross in order to make us part of His family... eternally.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, our adoption in Him is a fruit of the gospel, a gift we have been given.... It is completely undeserved, earned only by the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Each of us is completely ill-equipped to carry out His purpose for us on this earth if not carried under His wings of grace each and every day... and He has claimed us as His own. His sons and daughters... a thousand years ago, today, and forever.... no. matter. what.

Through His call on our hearts toward foster care God gifted us the earthly experience of adoption. And, y'all, this past year has revealed this truth more than anything: this boy is my son... One hundred years ago, today, and forever... no. matter. what.

What a truly incredible reminder that today... I am His.

Though I was born in sin and filth, far from being claimed as a daughter of the King...

...today, tomorrow, forever,

I am His.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!