Monday, July 21, 2014

Keep On Trucking

Its the middle of July and we are still fundraising for our adoption. We have been doing this a couple different ways.

Annie has a couple open Thirty One Gifts Parties that anyone can order from.

We have our Adoption Fundraising Site Set up at To donate to our adoption (

We are in the midst of planning for a fundraising event that will include a silent auction.

We've started to save change as well. Anytime we have change it gets put into a container and then once we fill it up (its a pretty big container) its going to the bank.

Greg is looking at extra hours at his current place of employment, and I am looking for a second job as well. 

We've opened an account at our Credit Union specifically for adoption where all this money and donations gets put in to.

The above are all small changes, that eventually will lead where we want it to go. We just need to believe and pray on it. We ask that you pray with us, for God to grant us our wish of expanding our family. That we can gather all the resources we need to expand it.

I've recently posted a "fundraising" video on Youtube, it has our story, and our why. Why we chose adoption. Feel free to share with your friends and family.

As always you can help in a number of ways.

Share our story with friends, family, an co workers. Ask them to keep us in their prayers as we fundraise, as we walk this journey. Share with them the link to Annie's Thirty-One site. If you know of a part time or even temporary job for either Greg or Annie, let us know. If you have ideas for fundraising share them, if you or someone you know would like to help out with our silent auction please let us know.  Again prayers are what is needed the most.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

How Can We help?

Adoption Update


Today Greg and I set up a fund or an account through our credit union specifically for our adoption.  When people donate on our adoption site on ( it will be deposited into this account. Whenever we get any money for the adoption, it will go into this specific account earmarked just for adoption expenses.

Large Utility Tote: Month of June Special!

Tomorrow June 1st, we kick off our first official fundraiser for the adoption. Shopt2Adopt with Thirty One gifts. I am pretty excited for this fundraiser because while we are raising money for our adoption we will also be able to pay it forward as well. See we will get 25% of all sales for the adoption. Any hostesses gifts or incentive earned will be donated to Lifetime Adoption, for the birth moms. Every birth mom gets a hospital bag that they stock with toiletries, and the hostess incentives earned on this fundraiser will be donated to that. You can order from this Fundraiser from June 1-15th, by going to then clicking on my parties and then Shop2Adopt. There is a great sale on our Large Utility Totes going on in the month of June including the deluxe utility tote. Get a Large Utility tote for $10 when you spend $35, get the deluxe for $25.

June 22nd we will be having a bake sale at our church Celebration after both church services. We are looking for donations of baked goods such as cookies, bars, cupcakes, pretzels, and other goodies. You can email us at if you would like to donate to this, message Annie or Greg on Facebook, or text us.

We are also in the works of planning a benefit with silent auction as well. The date for this will be announced. Again if you would like to donate an item or basket for this please email us, message, or text us. Perhaps you have a craft you are good at that we can auction off, or have a service to offer.  We may also incorporate vendors such as Lia Sophia, Thirty One, and others for booths.

Lastly we are in the process of going through everything we own and getting a rummage sale ready. The proceeds from this will again go towards the adoption. If you have anything you would like to get rid of and wouldn’t mind donating it to us so we can sell let us know!

Our goal for these fundraisers is to raise $12,000. This would pay for our down payment for adoption fees $7500 of $19,500, our home study fees of $3000. And have $1500 towards legal fees. This will help get the ball rolling. In addition to that once our home study is approved we can start applying for adoption grants, and there are several we will be applying for. Including one directly through Lifetime Adoption. In addition to the $12,000 we will need at least another $17000. The remaining 12,000 in fees, another 3500 in legal fees, and we are budgeting about 2000 for travel fees.  

To get all that money together, besides the fundraisers we are planning, we are hoping to get at least two or three substantial grants, Greg is looking for a part time job to earn some extra money, Annie is looking at starting a store on Etsy to sell some crafts. We are consistently looking for ways to reduce our spending and increase our income, so if you have ideas in regard to this, please let us know. We don’t have cable which is a huge savings, we have basic phone and internet packages, and we are starting to coupon. I really need lessons on this extreme couponing I keep hearing about.  Of course Annie still has her thirty one, photography, and graphic design.

Soph is in on this as well, today she said she is going to sell her Barbie’s to pay for her brother AND sister. (we are adopting ONE baby) We told her that was very nice, and sweet, but she can keep her Barbies! She also volunteered Aunt Emily to help her make bracelets to sell.

In case you haven’t seen, we made a specific Facebook group for “Bringing Baby Owens Home” We post updates, fundraising ideas, etc on this group. To be included you need to request it. Either by messaging Greg or I, or asking on Facebook.

Thank you so much for the ones who have donated so far. I can not tell you how much we appreciate it. No words could express the gratitude. To the ones that have been praying for us, have offered other sorts of help thank you.

I know everyone wants to help, but some are unsure how they can help, time, distance, or money seems to be prohibiting them from doing so. Other ways you can help:

1.)    Pray. I really can’t stress this enough. We need this adoption to be lifted up in prayers. I know we have said before we need prayers for funding, prayers for a successful match, prayers for us, for the birth mom, for the baby. I mean it. Prayers prayers prayers! I am trying to put together a list of prayers for adoptions, and encouraging scripture for this as well. If there   is a favorite versus, or scripture please share with us.

2.)    Do you craft? Have an amazing Photography eye? Can tell short stories? Get your crafts together, take pictures of them, and do your own online auction. Start Auction prices out so they include the cost of the material and a five dollar shipping cost add in. Photography buff, take some of your favorite prints and mount them real nice, sell prints of them. (Annie is considering doing this with some photos from Door County and Mackinac Island.) Again setting up an online store, or auction would work nice. Make sure to explain money raise will be going to benefit.

3.)    Have a service you can offer? Donate the service.

4.)    Coupon for us. We will start stock piling baby items, especially diapers, if you see a coupon for diapers let us know about it so we can get in on the deal.

5.)                            Have old baby things such as clothes, burp rags, blankets? Consider donating them to the baby for when the baby comes home. We will need lots of this stuff. While we did foster three babies, all our baby items have either went home with the child, given to nieces or nephews, dontated, or sold.

6.)                            Have I mentioned pray for the adoption? Pray for us? Pray. Prayer is powerful. I am hoping to set sometimes up when we can hold prayer sessions, where everyone stops what they are doing and says a quick prayers on our behalf.

7.)                            Be encouraging. Some days are really rough, keep that in mind. Sometimes we may want to talk a lot about it, where other times we just want to stay mum. Be understanding with it.

8.)                            Be a researcher- Annie has this amazing group of “cysters” women who are also affected by PCOS. We’ve been buddies along time, and we are pretty supportive of each other. As soon as we announced our intent to adopt, they had several grants and the information websites, they had adoption resources. It was a great way to show support with out spending a dime, and it was helpful. Share your ideas.

9.)                            Share, Share, Share. Share our adoption page, share our blog posts, share our fundraising information. Share our story.  I will be posting signs and flyers for fundraisers, share them. Print them out and post in church, grocery stores, gas stations. From Wisconsin to Texas, Virginia to Alaska, anyone can order thirty-one. Once our craft store is up and running, any one will be able to order from there.  

10.)                         Lastly, Pray! What? I mentioned it twice before? Yes I did. Its that important!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Memorial Day. It’s one of my favorite holidays.  It’s the unofficial kick off to summer. My husband and I will at times head to my favorite gas tank getaway- Mackinaw Island. I love the Island, as soon as you arrive on the ferry the smell envelops you, a rich aroma mix of salty lake water, sweet fudge, grills from the many dockside restaurants, and of course the ever present smell of the local “smog” horse manure.  I love this combination of smells, it immediately takes my stress away.

The island is rich inland is rich in history and does an excellent job celebrating that history. Memorial Day is special. They have reenactments, and a special tribute to all our soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our county. So that you and I, our families can have the freedoms we love.

Sometimes like this year we have a special event and can’t make that trip up to the island. Michaela, my sister and Goddaughter graduated high school this weekend.  We needed to celebrate that victory with her. 

Since we were home Saturday we packed up Soph and went down to the local festival here in DePere. It always is a good time, with plenty of food, drinks, and entertainment to go around. They cap it off with the Fireworks Sunday night followed by-this year- the Nitty Gritty Dirt band. But in the mist of this celebration they pay homage to the veterans.

Monday is parade day and bright and early the streets in DePere are packed, lined either side with children, parents, the occasional dog. The smell of sunscreen is thick in the air as mom’s and dad’s slather their children in it. The rustle of grocery bags is heard as excited kids jump up and down to see if the parade is starting, if the candy train is on the way yet. Here in DePere, in Middle America, The United States is still respected, we may not agree with government decisions, but the flag is respected, the soldier is respected. Today as the flag turn the corner every person along that street was standing, the applause was loud, dotted throughout the crowd there were servicemen and women standing ramrod straight at attention and executing a perfect solute. This thundering applause continued for a near ten minutes while various veterans from the most recent war, to a few World War II Vets.   This to me was an amazing site, so many times on Facebook you see pictures of parades with the flag passing and people sitting down, or on their phones or disinterested.  That disinterest that lack of respect is going to get this country further into trouble. 

At the parade we sat next to a couple with a little boy about four years old. Sapphira being Sapphira wasn’t really getting the whole concept of the candy being tossed, and this couple and this little boy made sure Sapphira got equal candy, and shared. When someone would pass her up but dump a huge amount into his bag, the little boy immediately gave some to Sapphira. When the little boy was afraid of a mascot Sapphira said “let’s give him high five together” and they did. There was a sense of compassion, and justice in this couple, and they were instilling it into their son. I applaud that. I don’t know this couple name, and I probably will never see them again, but they were so kind and friendly to Sapphira. And when the flag came by the father said “Stand up Son and show the flag the respect it deserves.”   The country needs more people like this. The country needs more kindness, more respect, more love and compassion in it.  And this was the perfect example of that. There was no judgment or censorship, but only kindness, compassion, and friendliness.  It was a perfect morning.

I know I am not the only one who loves Memorial Day, people get a day off, an extra day to spend with family and friends, doing things they enjoy. Celebrating Summer is around the corner. But it is important, that in the mist of celebrating all that, that we stop and remember the reason for this day. We have this day as a remembrance for those who lost their lives so we can enjoy ours.  For the people that even right now are protecting us in ways that you and I can only imagine. To those men and women, Thank YOU from the bottom of my heart. To their families, thank you as well, for the love and support you give them.

On Friday at work I received an email reminder to fly the flag at half staff till noon today. I didn’t exactly know why, but I forwarded it on to my boss. Today I found out why, and I find it beautiful in a heartbreaking way. And entirely appropriate way to close this entry:

"In traditional observance of Memorial Day, the American flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.


 The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all."



Happy Memorial Day everyone, I hope it was a safe and fun holiday for all. More important thank you to all the service men and women. God Bless and Keep you Safe.

Friday, May 23, 2014


As I am sure you know, Greg and I have been struggling with fertility or should I say infertility for twelve years. It has been a heartbreaking journey, fertility cycles that have failed, a failed international adoption, two failed foster-adopt situations, and the general heart ache and break of foster care.  In November we were extremely blessed to add to our family being granted guardianship for Soph. We absolutely love her and find such joy and delight in her. We however would love to add to our forever family and are looking at adopting a child through Lifetime Adoption.

The adoption really depends on a couple of factors.  Funding of course, adoption is extremely expensive- it will be between 25,000 and 30,000 dollars.  Finding a birth mom that is a match, and then having a successful placement. Our adoption coordinator Jen feels we would probably have a match within 12-18 months, with placement being as soon as baby is born. We are extremely excited about this. But we need help...

How can you help? Several ways!

First off, like I said this is contingent upon funding. We are applying for grants like crazy- as we can. Some grants you can apply to immediately- in fact Lifetime has such a grant that we have applied for. Other grants you need to have a home study completed- a cost of $3000 in itself, and others still you need to have a match. Whatever grants we can at this time we are applying for- including match grants where people donate to us and then the company matches donations up to a certain amount.  Right now the match grants we have found you do need to have an active home study-which we are working on currently. Once we have that we will have match grant information on here and in Facebook.

We currently have a website set up for donations that you can send directly to us if it is on your heart to help us that way.  Even if you can't help monetarily, if you could do two favors for us 1.) share this site with friends and family. The more people we have in it the better our chances are to get the funding we need. Currently it is set at $7500, but in total we will need about $25000.  2.) Pray over this, pray over the adoption in general!

 In addition to the above June 1-15th I will be doing a “Shop To Adopt” Thirty-One Event. Friends, Family, anyone can order through this event, and 25% of all sales will go towards our adoption. The hostess rewards I will use to donate bags, totes, etc to Lifetime Adoption for their Lifetime Adoption Foundation-which helps birth moms get through pregnancy, as well as provides them schooling or training to help in the future. Each birth mom is given a hospital bag that Lifetime fills with things like soap, shampoo, lotion, socks, pads, etc. Many of them do not have anything thing. So this is a really great thing for them to do, and I would love to donate as many bags as possible to them. How do you come into play? You can invite friends to the Facebook event I have set up by sharing this link or share the events link
with friends, coworkers, neighbors. If everyone shared with 10 people and those 10 people each brought one bag and one special we would have a significant amount of money.

We are trying to put together a benefit either June 22 or June 29th. Again inviting all your friends, family, anyone you know, to that as well as attending would be a great help. We are looking for a restaurant or bar to donate food/drinks, and then businesses and individuals to donate for a silent auction/raffle, prizes, perhaps someone to donate music. If you know anyone or would like to donate or have your company donate please let me know. I will also need help planning and organizing this.

If you have other ideas, or know of other resources to help us with the ADOPTION - that we can use please let us know!

Secondly we need your support. We need positive support, we have enough negativity in our lives, we don’t need more. We will also need to travel, and it maybe in the middle of the night on a Tuesday, and we may be gone for 7-10 days. If that happens we will need someone to watch Sapphira while we are gone. We will probably need a shoulder to cry on, or positive reinforcement when we are discouraged. I am only going to say the following once, this is not to hurt feelings, or sound ungrateful, but commenting on how expensive adoption is -not supportive. Telling me its not fair we have to pay so much when their are druggies and "bad" people popping out kids- not supportive- especially if one of them is yourself. Asking if we have tried a,b, &c- not supportive. I guarantee you- we've tried a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z...  Saying "oh but don't you want your own baby" Is absolutely not supportive. 1.) this baby and any baby/child we are blessed with whether they are born from my loins or born from my heart- is OUR baby. OUR child. They are not second rate, second class, or second choice. They are OUR choice.  They are a BLESSING from GOD. And as such will be treated as a blessing by us and everyone in their lives. If you can not understand that, then perhaps you should not come around.

We may need a place to stay. We will have to travel to the birth most likely and can not leave the state for 7-10 days after. Since we are working with Lifetime and they do adoptions all over the states, then we could potentially have a birth in HI or Alaska. So we may need a place to stay, or suggestions on a place to stay. And Greg would like suggestions on places to eat as well.

We need your prayers. This is most important. We need prayers we find the funding needed, prayers for a great birth mom match and a smooth adoption. Prayers for our sanity, and patience. Prayers for the birth mom, who is making such a sacrifice and gifting us with our greatest wish. Prayers for the entire birth family. Prayers for the adoption facilitators (Lifetime Adoption) prayers for our legal team. Prayers all around.

Lastly we just need you to be who you are, and be there for us. Whether it is a phone call and a listening ear, someone to make us laugh, someone to hold our hands, someone to pray with us. Someone to help organize various fundraisers, or help massage our hands after we do all this paperwork. Knowing you are in the background there for us if we need you to be, routing for us, is extremely helpful. We both love you all very much and appreciate everything you do for us.

Note: I know some have commented they can not help out for whatever reason. We aren't looking for a 1000 dollar donation. That would be incredible, and very appreciated. But a dollar adds up, five dollars adds up. I have roughly 200 people on my Facebook Friends list, and Greg has about 100 more that are not on mine. So about 300 people. If each of those people donated $5 dollars we would have 1500 dollars- half of our home study fee. or a portion of our travel costs (depending where we adopt from) If those 300 people each shared with their friends list, and each had an additional 5 people donate 5 dollars, that would be 7500 the cost of our down payment. What I am saying is it only takes a small amount to make a big difference. We also need prayers, or maybe you do crafts and have something you can donate that we can auction off.  But every single one of you can help in a huge huge way! Hit share on our donation page. Pin it on your Pinterest. Email our story to friends, families, colleagues. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


As a mom of a beautiful daughter who happens to have Autism, I know planning and preparation is key to success. The more we prepare Sapphira, the better she seems to do. So when we got the idea to take our little princess to see the REAL princesses in Disney, we knew we were going to have to really research, have a plan and prepare her. We knew it would totally be worth doing so! 

We started planning Labor Day 2012. Our original thought was do it for seven days. My parents and my sisters were coming with, and were were going to make a two week vacation out of it. Sight seeing on the way back. We wanted to avoid Atlanta at all cost. Traffic with any child is difficult, traffic with a child on the spectrum who doesn't understand the world doesn't work (unfortunately) on their needs, and with a disgruntled grandpa is to be avoided at all cost. So we decided we would make our first stop Metropolis, IL, for my own Super hero, to meet his Super hero- Superman. Greg was totally into this idea. From there we would drive on to Montgomery,Alabama. Take in some history, and travel on to one of the many small towns dotting the gulf cost line in Florida where my dad was going to go deep sea fishing, while we soaked up sun.  From there to Disney for seven days of magical fun. On the way home we were going to stop in Savannah, Georgia and Nashville TN, and Louisville to catch a race or two.  One trip to Oshkosh, WI a mire hour a way, in the same suburban we were going to be traveling to Florida in was a huge wake up call. Traveling such a distance as we were planning to Disney was not going to work. As much as I would have loved doing this- I would love to travel the US- personalities would not mesh. While family is a good thing, there is such a thing as to much of a good thing. 

In the meantime I had been discussing with her teacher who recommended it may be beneficial if this year we could do a test run before we go for seven full days.. We started to look for flights. There is not many options we wanted to try. Traveling with Soph we wanted nonstop, which meant either a two hour drive to Milwaukee or four hour drive to Chicago. Then costs for an over night stay, parking, and transfers. Disney was getting expensive! To fly out of Green Bay, there was at least one if not two connections. And the airlines REFUSED to guarantee that someone would be sitting with Soph unless we paid a special fee- $80 per leg, per person. it was $640 to guarantee that someone in our party would be sitting with our six year old daughter who has autism, on her first flight.  Uh yeah! Not happening, not to mention the baggage fees. It was more expenses to fly then to stay at Disney. It was looking like our Disney trip was not going to happen or we would have to postpone it at least two years and save for it.  

My mom saw an ad for MetJet. A brand new public charter offering Non-stop services out of Green Bay to Orlando. We called and got a price quote. For a nonstop flight out of Green Bay to Orlando, with no luggage fees, a meal, and they guaranteed that Soph and I could sit together, we were sold! But in addition to that, they had a buy 1 ticket get 2 tickets free for future use.

The fact that they guaranteed that one of us would be with Soph was huge to us. There was no fees associated with this, they do advanced seating. Not only was I able to sit with her, the entire party sat together. They have a three by three configuration, and so only my mom was not in our little cluster, but across the aisle. Being able to sit next to Soph with Greg was a godsend. This was her first flight and we weren’t sure how she was going to react, she did amazing, better then myself or Greg. But her ears hurt on the descent and having that extra set of hands to comfort her was amazing.

The fact that MetJet had such a great deal with Buy 1 Get 2 promotion means that in June of 2014 when we go with a much larger group to Disney that we are going to save money because of their promotions. People who normally wouldn’t be able to afford to go are coming with us, and that is amazing. It’s the first time we are doing a big family vacation with extended family, and we are all looking forward to it. The past couple years we’ve been put through the proverbial ringer and this week spent in Florida is going to be a much needed get away for all of us.

I could stop here, but honestly MetJet did so much more for that. Concerned about her reactions, and knowing the more we prepare Sapphira the more successful she is, we wanted to put together a social story. I went online and got pictures of Austin Straubel Airport, Orlando Airport, the tram in the airport, Disney’s Magical Express, and our hotel. I emailed customer service and asked if they had pictures of the plane, gate, and such. They forward me some that they had, but then offered to have their represented at the airport-Lynn, take some more. Lynn went above and beyond and got tons of pictures we included in Soph’s social story.  

Lynn asked if there was anything else they could do to help Soph. I thought it was a long shot but asked if we could visit the airport before our flight to help Soph. I had in mind we would check out the check in counter, maybe walk upstairs, see the baggage claim. Lynn had so much more. When you meet Lynn and chances are anyone who flies MetJet will meet Lynn, she is a presence in the room. She is one of those larger than life people, and is extremely nice, and a sweet heart. She immediately made Soph feel at ease and was extremely welcoming. She practiced checking in with us, and then took us upstairs. When Soph balked because there was an elevator, escalator, and stairs, Lynn took it in a stride. Sapphira is really afraid of elevators and escalators, Lynn just smiled and said well “lets get our exercise in and use the stairs.” Soph agreed and we trooped up the stairs.  Lynn got us gate passes and brought us through security on a practice run, and up to the gate. While there she got her one of the lunches we would be served on the plane. Soph was so excited about this!  Everything Lynn did helped so much with Soph, I know that our actual flight wouldn’t have been as successful with out Lynn’s help.

On the day of the flight Lynn met us at the door. We had lots going on. We were traveling with my 10 year old cousin Kayley, who because a parent wasn’t traveling with us, was considered an unaccompanied minor. So my aunt also got a gate pass to sit with Kayley while we waited for the plane. My grandma was traveling with us, she is older, and really should have had a wheel chair, but stubbornly refused to do so! And Soph. Lynn took it all in a stride and did amazing. Lynn told her she would be waiting for Soph to get back so she could hear all about Disney.

Soph and I were preloaded so Soph could look around. We went to our seats, and to the bathroom, and Soph went into the cockpit. I freaked out! I imagined the air marshel coming out of no where and tackling my six year old who weighed maybe 40 pounds to the ground. I hissed “Soph! Get out of there!” But the pilots both turned around and said it was ok. I got a couple pictures, and they wanted her to sit on their lap and “fly” the plane but Soph didn’t want to. We made our way back to our seats, and people started to board. Soon we were off, Soph clutched my hand and asked about 100 times when could she have her cookie (From Great Harvest Bread who provides this yummy lunch for the flights) we told her when we were in the air. We started to taxi and Soph yelled “Grandpapa! No rocking the plane…” Poor grandpapa was in the parking lot with moist eyes… We were ten feet off the ground, and she let go of my hand, and asked for her cookie. J  She did amazing.

Our trip was… awesome. I can not tell you all the amazing things we saw. Disney is truly a magical place. (look at all those 31 Bags! :)) The Magic starts from the moment you get on to the Disney's Magical express, and continues on.  Our first morning we visited Epcot, and the excitement of the crowd at rope drop was tremendous!

We ate with the Princesses and watched Sapphira in awe of them. Even Kayley and Emily were a little star struck. We met Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy, and Soph was beside herself with excitement.  We ate at the Hoop Dee Doo Review, the kids let go of their “coolness’ and tromped around the venue clanging on wash boards in a parade big goofy smiles on their faces. 

We did moonlight swims at our resort, and ate breakfast with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore. Nothing felt better after a long day of walking than to go swim and soak in the refreshing pool. It was open 24 hours a day and we took full use of it!

 I walked around in permanent state of near tears, watching my daughter run, laugh, and interact with characters, with her aunt and her cousin, with no stymming, and only one melt down.

I watched the three of them skip and dance without a care in the world. Soph got to meet her idol, her favorite Princess. Princess Tiana. She has always been a huge fan of the Princess and The Frog. Watching her interact with both Prince Navine and Princess Tiana, was worth every last penny, every last hardship later that night when we were stuck on main street.

It was fun for all ages that were with us. Even if certain people look at their watch wrong! 

Its true, Disney is addicting, and I can barely wait to go back next year! We never would have gotten to experience this vacation if it had not been for MetJet. They were amazing through it all, and I can’t wait to fly them again! I cannot say enough good about this company, and how they treat their customers. They truly get customer service, and they go out of their way, above and beyond to help them. By the end of this year they will be flying to Orlando, Fort Meyers, Cancun, and Minneapolis. I highly recommend them for anyone traveling to those places. Yes they maybe a little more expensive than your big box airlines, but let me tell you the convenience is worth it, and if that is not a concern of yours, the customer service that they offer is above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen. It is worth it! I firmly believe it is the best out of Green Bay, and you and your family should fly the best, the memories you will make, the smiles you will see… it’s all worth it!

Friday, May 10, 2013

May is Foster Care Month

May is Foster Care Month. In this month we are suppose to bring awareness to foster care, and to celebrate the foster parents that make a difference in young children's lives.

I am a foster parent. I have been a licensed foster parent since October of 2009. Our first placement was June of 2010. We still have her, and hope that her case moves forward with a permanent goal of adoption. At this point it really is the only option that would benefit her.  "S" has autism and will need help the remainder of her life. her bm (birth mom) is MIA and her bd(birth dad) is on an extended vacation until "S" is fourteen. At this point really she only knows Greg and I.That is one thing they don't tell you, these cases can drag on and on forever. Frustrating even the most patient person.

We have had the pleasure of fostering seven kids. The youngest three weeks old, the oldest being "S" at six now.  Even with that limited experience, we've seen a range of things. From birth families taking an active stance and trying to get their kids back, to birth families taking no stance and basically abandoning their children. Its heart breaking in any case, but the ones that are really frustrating, are the birth families who do the bare minimum. Contact is sporadic, visits even less, and the commitment is shaking.  The kids social worker is also the parent's social worker, so when it comes down to it, the social worker is fighting for the parents. That's another thing they don't tell you in training, 9 times out of 10 the social worker doesn't really care what happens to the kids, just that the parent's get their rights back. Another file off the overworked over piled desk of the tired and weary social worker. Another thing they don't tell you is that the kids' rights are never guaranteed. Parents have all the rights in Wisconsin- where as the kids- the very people CHILD Protective Services (CPS) is supposed to PROTECT- have very little rights. They have the right to safety- and the threshold Wisconsin uses is abysmally small- were there any bones broken? There is no requirement for food shelter or other safety measures other than broken bones. That's another thing they don't tell you, the laws that CPS follows- do not make sense to ANY one. What would seem like common sense, is actually exactly opposite of what required. Kids are reunified with parents on a daily basis simply for the fact that they showed up to court. They may have missed that last six court hearings. They might have not seen the child for months, maybe even years, but they show up, automatic reunification. The birth parents may not have a job, or any means to support their selves, let alone the child(ren), may not have a roof over their head, or a car to transport them. But they will be reunified, then brought to the front of the line for things like welfare, food stamps, housing, and other programs that were designed to help for a short term period. But these families have no training, and no way to get out, so its just a cycle over and over again.  And they feel like they are ENTITLED to these benefits.

When you decide to become a foster parent, there is extensive training you undergo. There is background checks, and financial checks, and a host of other information. You receive a four inch binder and a six inch binder full of rules that as a foster parent you need to follow. Such as you can not smoke in your house, your car, your yard, or around the foster children. You need to maintain a safe and healthy environment, that has smoke alarms on every level, in every bedroom, and carbon monoxide alarms on every level. A fire extinguisher. One bed for each child, and no more then two children-who must be same sex siblings, can share a room. You can't cut the child's hair with out permission from the parent's or social worker. There are several more. They don't tell you that these rules apply only to the foster parents. The birth parents can do as they please, and social workers make excuses for them.

Things change day to day with placements. You maybe told the placement is permanent with adoption in six months, and the next day the kids go back to their birth parents. Or Family steps up and wants the kids. Family is key in Wisconsin courts. If family steps up and asks for the kids they maybe one step away from jail, never met the kids, but the judge will place them with family. Or remove them from a Foster Home into a familiy's home. Sharing the same blood doesn't make you "Family".  But in the eyes of Wisconsin Law family is and only can be blood.

The system is broken, and everyone admits it but no one is willing to do anything about it. Some of the most awful things I have experienced have come from this broken messed up system. I don't understand 98% of the things that happen. Common sense says one thing, the law says another.   Its a tough road, but someone has to travel it for these kids. Unfortunately- social workers, birth parents, and most involved are not very good at expressing their appreciation for foster parents. So it is a thankless job in that regard. But that child's smile, their laugh. The fact that you provide them with a safe home, stability, love, and warmth.. that is what we do it for.

The one thing they do tell you in training is that your heart will be broken. You think its because you get attached to these kiddos, but in reality its the fact that you have to send these kiddos back into less than ideal, sometimes straight up awful places, and there is not one thing you can do to change it.

I was recently asked my a birth mom if I get attached to kids, and how do I send them back. I hate the later comment, its not a choice I have. Its something I HAVE to do. It breaks my heart a little more each time. There is also the comment of "well you knew from the start this was temporary" These are the people I would love to choke, no matter how well meaning they mean to be. Temporary or not, you still get attached. Its hard not to. Its like telling the mom of the infant who died from Sids- well you were only with them a short time... Or the cancer patients family "well at least you know when they will die." Its awful, not helpful, and it is plain mean. Whether it sets out as a two week placement, or a placement that leads to adoption, when they leave, its hard. You become attached, you love these kids, they are now a part of you. And I love and care and treat these kids as MY OWN. 

As for being attached.. the answer is yes. Some a little more then others. But there is a bond, and you do get attached. I wish the best for my kiddos when they leave. I make them a life book full of pictures, stories of their time with us, and letters from myself, husband, and my family. Its a heart wrenching process- but it gives them a piece of their history. After the kids leave, I have a good cry, or twenty. And we try to move a head, a little bit broken. But those kids stay in my heart for ever, and I always keep them in my thoughts and in my prayers.