Well, MAPP classes have officially started and my heart is broken before the Lord as we learn more and more about the system....but being broken before the Lord is a good place to be.
The classes are on Thursday nights from 6-9pm and there are 8 couples in the class. The class is divided almost equal with parents looking to adopt from the system and parents looking to foster. We adore everyone in our class. To say they are "good people" just might be the under statement of year ;). Everyone comes to the class for different reasons but everyone who comes there is there for one central goal in mind - making an impact on a child in the name of Jesus. It's beautiful, wonderful and heartbreaking all at once. It's a twist of emotion that lays heavy on my heart - for one mans biggest gain is another's biggest loss. There are no winners in the children's sad stories but there is a big God who is in the business of making things right and healing old wounds. He is meeting the children's needs at Florida Baptist Children's Home and he's using us. That's a huge honor....
Getting into what the classes are like I'll do a simple run down and go into detail in the next few weeks. We started the first class off by doing an ice breaker. We met one person by a card matching game and had to introduce them. It was a great way to hear about everyones story, find out why they there (to adopt or foster) and a little bit about their personal life. After that we were giving a big packet of papers that we use as an outline for the class. The first class was mostly a lot of legal information and identifying what "needs" are and how we as foster and adopted parents can meet those needs. And identifying what our own family "strengths" are. It was very interactive and we had great class discussion. Then of course there's the homework.....it was reading about a case and assessing the situation. It's very important to see each situation for what it is and also seeing it from the child's point of view.
The reality is this, even if a child is being abused they don't usually want to be ripped away from the only home they know...from the only parent they know. It seems crazy to think that a child would want to stay in a home life where they are being abused or neglected but the reality is...that's all they have EVER known. So what do you expect? Taking them out of their home is about the most traumatic thing that can ever happen to a child who most likely blames themselves for their abuse in the first place. It's hard to wrap your mind around this but as a foster parent, in most cases you are providing a loving home for a short while and at the same time encouraging the parents to make changes so that they can get their children back. The goal is reunification when at all possible - I truly get that. No matter how I feel about the parent or the situation at hand the true goal is to love the child and parents through the storm.
I'm going to finish this post up by answering a few questions that people have asked me recently regarding fostering...
1. Some people say to me "Won't it be too hard to give the child back...I know I couldn't do foster care because I would get too attached to the child?"
A - This has been something that I honestly can say I'm not struggling with at the moment. Maybe it's because I haven't had a placement yet but I feel like the Lord is preparing my heart in many many ways. He is working on my heart to provide a loving home for a child and all the while helping me TRULY understand its NOT ABOUT ME. It's about the child and once it becomes about me and about my feelings I'm not doing it for the right reasons. That's when we will need to step back and take a look at the situation we are in. Now with that I'm not saying I won't be attached to the child. I'm SURE I will be but if I didn't love them like my own child then I wouldn't be doing my job. I expect it to sting...that's the point.
2. How long will the child be in your home?
A- This all depends but typically there is a plan in action for either reunification or TPR (termination of parental rights) within a year of the child coming into the care of the state. So at the year point we would know what direction the case was going - either the child going back to the parents or being adopted. However, it could be as short as only a few months or weeks that the child would stay with us. It really is all a case by case situation.
3. Can you choose what type of child will be placed in your home?
Yes and no. You can have an idea of what you want - say an age range, a sibling group or a single child and maybe a gender but you can't exactly hand pick the child for your family. I believe that God has that under control and I have to give that control up to the one who brought us to this point.
Okay well this is long enough Ill answer a few more question and keep you updated on the MAPP classes in a few days!