Home sick is a weird thing. When you wake up you think your home, but your not. You don't know whats right and what is wrong because you dont no the rules. Evrething gets weird in its own way. It's like a air born disees. You can't know whats going to happin next.
A new life is like being put in a foster home. You don't know who's who. You don't know whitch dog is whitch. In fact you don't know any thing.
~ written by an 8 year old in foster care
This past weekend, Oregon City DHS took a big step forward in showing their clients that they are valued and have worth. They did this by putting time, energy and a small amount of budgeted funds into updating their lobby and a training classroom that is used to teach job skills and help people find employment. The lobby is freshly painted, easier to navigate (thanks to new signage), trauma-informed and includes a brand new corner just for kids! The results of this 2-day effort are awesome and they convey the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect, even the most vulnerable members of our community who use the space daily.
“My momma is gone. She’s sick.”
As shelter care parents, my husband and I don’t usually get many of the details of a kid’s life pre-DHS involvement, nor do we have the opportunity to put pieces together after months together. Instead, we’re thrust in for just a few days to offer consolation, love, a little structure, and FUN.
On Tuesday night, I got a call from DHS for two kids who’d been waiting for over two hours for a placement. They arrived at our doorstep (full with a New Seasons dinner with their caseworker), but with nothing but the clothes on their back and one tattered stuffed animal.
“The cops took my mommy.”
That was most of what we knew.
As I was sitting at the dental office the other day, I saw yet another magazine cover of the Royal Family’s kids. It seems like their adorable faces grace the cover of our magazines every other week.
Last week for 24 hours as a shelter foster care family, we had the privilege of welcoming two little ones under the age 3 who had been left with panhandlers in downtown Portland. And when I welcomed them in through my front door, I said to my husband, “These kids are stunningly beautiful - like cover of a magazine type beautiful!” They were also sweet.
"But what about your bio kids?"
It’s a fair and honest question and one I get asked frequently when asked about our family’s engagement with foster care.
Here’s one of the responses I share:
Last year my daughter, Sophia, was in 3rd grade. As I was going through the many papers in her take home folder from school (and truthfully doing some very liberal recycling) an essay on bright blue construction paper caught my eye.
It had a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. that she had cut out and colored and in the top it said “I HAVE A DREAM”. Sophia in her best 9 year old handwriting wrote the following:
"I have a dream that one day every kid in foster care will have a welcome box and a super nice foster family! I have a dream that kids who are scared in foster care will have families who are kind to them and not mean. I have a dream that kids in foster care will feel safe”.
Embrace Oregon was chosen as an honored community partner and presented the "Champions for Children" award at the Child Abuse and Neglect Summit.
Embrace Oregon was nominated by Clackamas DHS for our work in creating spaces that communicate dignity, worth and value for children in foster care and our renovations of the Child Welfare offices.
If you are one of the 3,000 community members who have stepped inside a DHS Child Welfare office in the last 3 years, this one is for you.
We are all Embrace Oregon.
This is our community.
These are our children.
A beautiful and sunny Oregon afternoon wouldn’t keep three churches from gathering to put together diaper bags for babies coming into care. Volunteers from Damascus Community Church, Good Shepherd Community Church, and Gresham Bible Church met with a goal of assembling 50 diaper bags for the Gresham and N. Clackamas Child Welfare Office.
As three vans full of items pulled up to Good Shepherd Community Church, volunteers started unloading item after item. Only Wednesday, had the final items needed for 50 bags been donated. The organizers knew the event was God ordained as donations kept coming in even up to the time the event started.
Do you ever wonder what children do when they are brought to a child welfare office? Check out how Office Moms and Dads can make a difference in that most vulnerable time.
It’s a Saturday in January in Portland. To no one’s surprise, it’s raining. Not the mist that accompanies so many winter days here. Today, it’s pouring. The few pedestrians out have to shield themselves from the spray and splash of the passing cars. It’s the kind of day that brings out words that start with “D”: Dark. Dreary. Dismal.
But in a townhouse in northeast Portland, something bright and beautiful is going on.
"Do you have an old sheet?" Those were the first words out of the CPS worker's mouth when I opened our front door.
Apparently little Oliver* was filthy and soaking wet. He had been taken from his mentally unstable mother in the back of a police cruiser, and brought directly to our house. The worker wanted to wrap him in a sheet and carry him straight to the bathtub. While she was wrapping our next gift, I started filling the tub with warm water. I tried to imagine how my own kids would react to this kind of welcome, stripped down and exposed to complete strangers.
It was summertime. A one-year old girl was brought into a local emergency room with an injury. The nurses could hardly concentrate on the tiny girl; they were so overpowered by the smell of marijuana coming from her mother. It was like a cloud, covering everything.
DHS was called. The mom was so impaired, she barely connected what was happening. Sophie was removed and taken to a DHS office, where they called foster homes for hours before finally landing on our name. “Can you take her? Even if just for the night? She's adorable.”
"My mommy dead. My mommy died at my house."
“DADDY!” She yelled at the top of her lungs as the car came to the end of the driveway. We could both see my husband, Jeremy*, walking from the house to the car. I slid to a stop and turned off the ignition.
I had just picked up our newest foster placement, a 2-year old girl, from the DHS office. Her mom had relapsed; her dad had disappeared. During the drive home, I told Sydney* about the house and her bedroom and our family. We make introductions wit...h first names, but these kids often substitute the titles they crave: Mommy, Daddy, Papa and Grandma. Sometimes it happens within a few days, sometimes weeks. Sydney did it in minutes.
Jeremy reached the car and opened the door.
And out of the 5 children playing in my backyard in the moment, three have been in the foster care system in Multnomah County.
Huge life events often yield more emotions than I can clearly convey, but last night my excitement over this upcoming week was interrupted by these thoughts. I knew this journey wasn't going to be easy, but I also knew that I had committed to the long haul. This is a glimpse of our story as we walk through fostering and adopting. There is great joy in the midst of these emotions, a joy that surpasses all understanding.
This is right where I am supposed to be.