This is the book every foster parent of faith needs to read.
Jenn does an amazing job in this book relating to foster parents. She UNDERSTANDS the support required and is a champion in getting foster and adoptive parents the help they so desperately need.
I met Jenn at a conference last fall and her passion for her work is so evident. This book is well thought out, researched and packed full of powerful information for foster and adoptive parents.
She opens the book with speaking about how kids in care are often misunderstood and not seen as the precious, worthy humans they are. That their personalities have developed with complex histories that have shaped their current realities.
She shares in my firm belief that God places a high priority on caring for vulnerable children. and that as Christians we are called to be a part of the mission.
One thing she says that speaks right into my heart is; Adoption and foster connect with important values that are deeply integral to what it means to be a Christian. It is a beautiful expression of love’: it involves caring and sacrifice for a child in need. It is a powerful expression of justice: it involves meeting the needs of vulnerable children and the “least of these.” And it is a wonderful expression of faithfulness: it involves sticking with a child for the long haul. whether that is permanently or temporarily, and through the inevitable ups and downs. Being willing to serve as an adoptive or foster parent involves becoming the hands and feet of Jesus to a child.
She then gives tons of tangible advice and support for those of us responding to the trauma and special needs that are unique to children impacted by foster care and adoption.
She knows and understand that often in this process we might feel alone, rejected, isolated. That we might question whether we should have become a foster or adoptive parent in the first place. And she writes about the hope we have even in these challenging and difficult moments. About knowing and trusting that our Heavenly father is holding on to us, even when the storms are the fiercest, and that He willingly steps into our mess. Hope is also found when we join others which is why I am so passionate about this community.
The heart of the Replanted Book is for you to feel validated and supported right where you are–in the beauty and the struggle.
Jenn’s goal in this book is to remind us that it is possible to experience a full, vibrant healthy life as an adoptive and foster family. To learn new skills that help us to improve our relationships with our children and spouses. To gather a group of faithful people who can help support us through ups and downs. To have people who understand us and have our back, no matter what. And to engage churches to be a community who actively cares for vulnerable children and supports adoptive and foster families in a way that really works. AND I think she does just that.
A couple takeaways I want to share with you.
- Don’t wait until you are in the thick of it to get support. Start with support as soon as you start thinking and praying about the decision to become foster and adoptive parents.
- Enter into this journey with a strong dose of humility, an awareness of our limitations and appropriate boundaries.
- Foster Parents are not generally given the necessary training and education to bring their child to a place of healing (in other words realize there is so much beyound your 9 week PRIDE or MAPP classes that you take in order to become a licensed oster or adoptive parent.
- We are often caring so intensely for our children we forget to care for ourselves.
- Parenthood’s demands particularly those of foster and adoptive parents are so high that sometimes the task feels completely impossible
- When the demands of parenting outweigh the resources the adjustment is difficult and when the scales are tipped in this direction for too long we start to see negative effects of stress, psychologically, physically and relationally.
- A child who experiences abuse gets the message “I do not like you” and a child who experiences neglect receives the message “You do not exist.”
- The quote from the book Emerging With Wings: A true story of lies, pain and the Love that Heals by Danielle Bernock – “Trauma is personal, it does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.
- A pregnant mother’s emotional state effects her baby. If she is under stress she release hormones such as cortisol in what’s called a metabolic cascade which effects her immune system and the baby in utero.
- Memories are encoded in brain cells impacting the child’s neurodevelopment. OUR BODIES KEEP SCORE. Even though the child has no memory the brains neurobiology has stored it.
- When a child experiences trauma the amygdala takes over. The amygdala is the emotional part of the brain that deals with survival and protection. When the amygdala is activated all other areas of the brain are turned off. Children impacted by oster care and adoption are not trying to be defiant; it’s a hardware issue in the brain. It’s like you’re trying to get your child to press the brake when they have the gas pedal pressed to the floor.
- We need to view our child’s behaviour through a trauma lens.
- A trauma brain can experience healing because of plasticity. Brain plasticity refers to the ability o the brain to change, adapt and create new neural connections over time with different experiences. Just because a child is struggling right now does not mean a child will struggle in the same way forever.
- Research shows that consequence and punitive oriented approaches to discipline may keep children functioning in their trauma brain and bring them to the healing they need.
- Loving vulnerable children as Jesus commanded means to love with our time, energy, actions and resources
- Gos is 100 percent about working or justice for the needy and pressed, and if we want to be in line with God’s heart, we need to be about justice also.
- The value of faithfulness is a good model for us as we enter into adoption and osrter care. Sometimes just surviving is a struggle, with the feeling that thing will never improve. But just as God is faithful towards us, we have the opportunity to practice faithfulness toward the beautiful children who are in our care by sticking with them through the ups and downs and loving them sacrificially.
- Because vulnerable children’s needs are so great, and the desire to love and care or children is so deep, we can feel emotionally complessed to take action, sometimes letting wisdom and discernment take a backseat
- Negative consequences occur when families rush headlong into adoption or foster care in a way that is not wise, balanced, or disciplined. families struggle, marriages break up, placements fail and kids return to the foster system.
- “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping the person next to you”
- Speak to your kids about foster care the way you hope they will think about foster care, because they’re listening and live out foster care the way you hope they’ll live out foster care because they are watching
- We aren’t promised an easy journey we are promised that the God who has overcome the world will be with us every step of the way.
I could go on and on with the nuggets of wisdom I took away from this book. SHe covers everything from creating a support circle to working with difficult behaviours. There is a section in the book or those who support foster and adoptive families and how to best do that so this book is not just for you i you are a foster or adoptive family.
So in a nutshell the book talks about the 3 types of support foster and adoptive families need and how to best implement systems and practices into your life to thrive in the role God has called you to.
INFORMATIONAL SUPPORT – trauma informed, attachment, sensory needs. diagnosis etc.
TANGIBLE SUPPORTS – financial resources, medical bills, therapy bills, meals, babysitting etc
EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL SUPPORT – super important to be connected with people who
get it. For both parents and the children.
I also really love who she discusses the churches role and it inspired me as an individual to get more involved in this area with my church.
The Replanted Ministry also runs support groups and you can find out more on their website. Replantedministry.org as well as hosts an amazing conference in the Chicago area in October. I loved this conference last year and will definitely be going again! If you are close I highly recommend it.