I entered the foster care system when I was twelve years old. I remained in care for five and a half years until I emancipated when I was eighteen years old. Throughout those five and a half years, I lived in twelve different homes. I was blessed with the opportunity to live with over sixty different people in these homes.
Though this may not appear as an obvious blessing and even though there was much adversity, as I struggled to cultivate genuine relationships and feel loved, God blessed me to come to a better understanding of people and purpose. As I met many different people, I came to understand healthy and unhealthy patterns in families. I also came to recognize the benefits as well as the faults within the foster care system.
By experiencing different values, structures, and patterns in different families that were sometimes successful and other times failing, I realized that family is the foundation which determines whether children are healthy and successful- and that includes children for generations, not just children within the family.
As my enthusiasm for family grew, I became passionate to have my own healthy, happy, and Jesus loving family; but before this, I hoped to become apart of the 3% of foster children that graduate with a Bachelor's degree or higher. I am currently in the process of getting my college degree, while running track at Hillsdale College. While getting my education, I have been blessed with many other opportunities to fulfill my other passions; some being, improving the foster care system and helping other families by sharing my experiences and story.
In the summer of 2016, I was honored to intern for an amazing and impactful nonprofit in Washington, DC, called the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. During this summer, I presented a policy to congressmen and women and White House policy staffers about how to reduce abuse and neglect in foster homes and eliminate stereotypes and negative labels among foster youth. The ultimate goal of this presentation was to reduce the saddening statistics foster youth face, while communicating the potential these youth have. This was the experience of a lifetime and I am so grateful that I am able to be a voice for those who are often silenced.
I am communicating many of the achievements "I have accomplished," but I want to emphasize that none of this would be possible without God's love and miracles in life. He perfectly placed many people (coaches, teachers, mentors, and ministers), my church (Family Christian Center), and many great organizations (like Children's Lantern), in my life to help me get to all of the awesome places I have been and where I am today. God has been my Father through it all and he has granted me these people as my family, which has been my foundation.
I am looking forward to helping other families create an unbreakable foundation to improve children's lives. I am excited to be a voice for the children who are overlooked. I am stoked to help youth find and fulfill their purpose with the gifts they have. And I am honored that God has allowed me to pave a way, form a foundation, and be a light to help helpless children do the same for future generations.
Every once in a while I feel like God blesses us with a moment that you can tangibly feel and see just a glimpse of the deep love that He has for someone. A love that knows NO boundaries, a love that in spite of everything you have ever said or done still looks at you and thinks you are the most beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing He has ever created!
A few weeks ago, I had to take my foster daughter in for one of her weekly visits with her birth mom. I will admit there are days I grudgingly go in there. Days that my heart feels like it is going to pound out of my chest from the moment I put the baby in her car seat to leave our home. There are many days that I am at complete peace with taking her in and knowing that NO matter what happens, God is in control.
A Peek Into a Foster Care Agency
By Emiley Shenk, LSW
Adriel Foster Care and Adoption
When people hear that I work for a private foster care agency, I am usually met with the following response: “Wow, I could never do that.”
That referring to foster parenting.
Very often the perception of what foster care looks like is quite different from the reality. Let’s delve further into what foster looks like and address some of those perceptions from an agency’s perspective.
Myth: All kids that come into foster care are teenagers with major behavior problems.
Reality: Youth of all ages enter into foster care. At Adriel, the average age of children in foster care is seven. Quality foster homes are needed for children of all ages. Likewise, the circumstances which bring youth into foster care are as varied as the children we serve. Each child is unique and brings his or her own set of strengths as well as behavioral challenges. Usually, the concerns which bring youth into foster care are not the fault of the child, but rather an inability of the parents to care for the child.
Lay It Down
By: Adam Tracy
I come to you today completely tired and ready to go back to bed. I didn’t sleep well last night. Many of you may know I struggle with sleep. Last night was a rough one. I didn’t get to sleep until 5:30am, then alarm, and the day starts at 6:00am. Luckily my awesome wife knows I have bad nights, and she got up and got the first set of kids off to school while letting me sleep until about 7:30am. I got a good two hours of sleep, so if I am all over the place in this blog, please forgive and try to look at the inner workings of my writing.
My brother spoke yesterday on “Eternal Hope”, and he did an amazing job explaining things. If you want to listen to that, you can get it off of the Family Christian Center website. They played a video of Francis Chan in the service. In this video Chan brought out this rope that seemed to never end. It stretched clear across this giant stage. He went on to explain how we need to imagine the rope represents our existence. In his hand was the end of the rope, and it had a two inch piece of duct tape wrapped around the tip. He went on to explain that if the rope represents our existence, then that little piece of tape represents our existence on this earth. Following the existence on this earth is millions of years in the rest of eternity spent somewhere. He went on to talk about how our decisions on this earth decide as to where we spend this eternity and how we spend it. This is what I want to delve into a little more.
Yesterday was a day of being BLOWN AWAY. So much so that I had to take a day to find words to share with everyone. Adam, Kelly and I spent the summer working on applying for a grant from the government… long story short, we were not awarded the funds we worked tirelessly on asking for. It was a BLOW we weren't ready to take. We were believing for resourcing for MUCH needed housing and resources for local survivors of trafficking. We can’t tell you how much your funds are needed BUT at the same time, we can’t tell you stories or details for their protection. It’s truly a conundrum. Adam took a game changing phone call yesterday afternoon and the rest of the funds needed to get our project off the ground were donated! These funds will get us started, but the need doesn’t end there. BLOWN AWAY (even though I shouldn’t be surprised at what mountains can be moved). We are blessed beyond measure. To see the survivors start to thrive is simply amazing. This will be a game changer for them. For this project we are looking for volunteers and even sponsorships for certain things if it’s in your heart to give. For questions, contact Kelly King, our Freeing Coordinator. More to come later, just know that we received 3/4 of our project yesterday and we are in awe.