Community support. Let’s be a village of change.

We all have things that ignite our souls and also things that send a justifiable rage through out our bodies. For me they are both of the same thing. Injustice to children and the pursuit to help children. This is undoubtedly my life’s purpose. Any one of us can get on social media today and see so much anger behind what people strongly believe in (usually political these days.) Everyone has a passion, a conviction and a drive in them. But I think there might be better ways to fight our battles and that is together. We as a community can ignite actions for real and tangible change. Change that will help so many families and vulnerable children in our very own communities and back yards. From the beginning of this storm our family has been in the fight of our lives against a system designed to fail families like ours. While simultaneously also fighting against mental illness that is bigger than I ever knew possible. We have heard over and over how our situation is so unique or there aren’t protocols in place for families like ours. We have been told over and over that no one knows what to do. We have fought to clear our names, fought to keep our family intact and now we are fighting a fight that is so big, so powerful and perhaps intimidating that if it wasn’t for the truth that God is bigger, I would have surely crumbled by now. But here’s the thing. We are not the only family in this situation. Many don’t raise their hands and publicly say “me too” and I don’t blame them at all. The ridicule, the judgments, the lies and slander, the false allegations, wrongful charges and so much more that came upon our family with standing up against our very own Goliath has been beyond what most of you know about. There really are SO many of us. So many families that said yes to bringing big traumas, devastating abuse, horrific neglect, and some of the most severe complex mental illnesses one will ever experience in their lifetime into our homes. Families that adopt children from super hard beginnings don’t need your judgment, they need support from an educated community. These families are not the problem, they are fighting desperately to heal the child filled with the devastating problem. You can give real and tangible help to these families by showing your support. Showing up when many others have walked away, because the journey is long. I will never stop fighting or be silenced about the injustice of our story. Because it’s not just our story. It’s a story so many families are living or more appropriately said, barely surviving through.  So here is how you can be part of change for families and children like ours in your very own community. If you can’t foster or adopt children, please support the families that are. We are not saviors or heroes. We are ordinary families with callings on our hearts in which we said yes too. Here is my dream for my community. If you’re in the mental health system, a first responder, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a pastor or personnel in the legal system, please educate yourself and your work place on what severe complex trauma and mental illness in children really looks like in a family setting. Don’t just read books or go to classes that teach about reactive attachment disorder, disassociate identity disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, sociopathic tendency or so on. Talk to the families living with these very real, preventable and devastating mental illnesses. Dig deep with your time, love and resources to learn, support and engage in ways that will really help them. By helping the family that are being the cast around the child filled with trauma, you are helping to change generations to come from more trauma and preventable mental illness. All of which will forever change our communities for the better. This problem is big, devastating and affects families in every state and corner of America and beyond. If you know a family that has adopted children from hard beginning, even if you don’t see the trauma first hand, go today and tell them you see them and you are with them through this long, beautiful and sometimes devastating journey that God has called them to. Ask them questions, learn ways you can help, listen to their hearts for their children and respect the boundaries that must be put in place for everyone’s safety.  And if you already have a purpose that is bigger than yourself. I support you, I see you and I’m proud of you for chasing after it. People with a purpose bigger than themselves inspire me and people that come along side others to help carry those purposes further along are true saints and the kind of people I want and need in my community. Imagine how beautiful and strong our communities would become if each of us picked something that God has already put into motion to get behind and support. To help ignite the fire of change and be part of something bigger than any one person could do alone. Maybe I’m naive and thinks the impossible is possible.  But my heart believes strongly in the notion that my pastor Ed Waken often says, “When a lot of people do a little, much is accomplished.”  We as a family are going  to accomplish something bigger than ourselves, so no other family ever has to be in this horrible situation and separated from each other. Families belong together. I strongly believe that education is our first step in achieving this goal. I can put professionals and families in your path for you to learn more and help enable change for one family and child in the trenches of trauma at a time and let’s watch and see what God will do.

08937E83-D94B-4233-BF9D-5A4EF20C35DE

 

Do you do it for the money?

I can admit that prior to becoming a Foster parent myself, I always wondered why so many Foster folks had such large families. Was it the money or maybe they had a Mother Theresa complex, because it’s so rare to see a small foster family these days. Whenever you watch television they are great at sending a false message of what foster families look like and maybe I was a little guilty of believing things I knew nothing about. Why couldn’t I and others see these folks as having a heart for children, a heart to serve, a heart to help while stretching outside of themselves. Why are we so quick to pass judgment on people and their lives? I am part of a private Foster parents page and so many are sad or struggling with the loss or judgment from family and friends. So often they are not asked to participate in outings or events because many of the kiddos they are loving on have pains and issues that are hard to deal with, especially in public situations. I also hear many feeling isolated by family because, well, ‘they did it to themselves,’  because, really, they did. They didn’t have to help this child or add one more to the mix, they could of stopped and let someone else take care of this child. So when they are having a hard day, who do they vent with or ask advice from when the ones that should be their support are busy judging. What if they didn’t do it to themselves, what if they don’t do it for the money, what if Mother Theresa is a saint many would never try to even compare their lives to.

Lets start with how they did it to themselves. They did cause less sleep for their life, less alone time, less money to go around and less adult time, but, lets stop and think what they really did when they brought that last baby in to their home. They added life to a family, extended their hearts to love more, they chose love over comfort, they chose to take the bible and Gods command to love all orphans as literal and not just some old ancient words. If you are a parent of any number of children, by birth, adoption of fostering you know it can be hard and exhausting and every parent has their days where they need to vent. That need doesn’t change because they are not biologically there children. Be an ear, bring a meal or share a glass of wine with the Foster parent in your life. They just like before, have days where they still need YOU.

I love Mother Theresa, that lady will always hold rockstar status in my eyes, she didn’t own much of anything, spent her days in poverty, served others and only asked for Gods sustaining power to carry her through. She was one of a kind and not many folks are like her and not a single foster parent I have met is trying to be her. They all have things like; t.v’s, cars, homes, clothes, go on some kind of vacations, whether big or small. They are just regular folks that have seen the need and how desperately children in our own backyards need us all to help them. So they stepped up and did what they can, even if that looks different to you, don’t judge them, because trust me, what they are doing isn’t always easy and they don’t do it for the kudos, they do it for the love of the child. I know that a small portion of foster families are bad and have unclean motives, but don’t let that small one percent, cause your taste buds to turn sour over what your friends or family next to you are doing. Join them, invite them over for a BBQ, hear their stories and share in their passion. Encourage them it will mean the world to them.

They do it for the money I bet. I was someone that thought this notion prior to becoming a Foster parent myself, that money had to be at least a small motive, because how could anyone open their home and lives to multiple children that are not their own, if it’s not about the money, right? For the average foster child in Arizona it breaks down to a whopping 63 cents per hour that the Foster family gets. That is 63 cents an hour to be a full time taxi driver to multi doctor and therapy appointments and also pick up and drop off at visits each week with the child’s bio parents, where once you pick that child up, you quickly turn into a therapist to their broken and confused little hearts. Your ability to transition into a Dr. happened often also as you have to take care of immune issues, lice, abuse, fears of showers, cars, the darkness, bed wetting, tantrums and you quickly learn you could make double the money part time, at minim wage and have nights and weekends off and not spend your nights holding a crying child that is scared of God knows what. Then you feed them and my Lord do these kiddos eat, I mean eat. One of mine gained four pounds the first 10 days he was in our home. The real fear of starvation is a strong force so many of these kids have, which causes them to never want to go hungry again, so they eat, gorge, hoard and are always looking for their next meal. Oh yea, did I mention they also usually come to your home with just the dirty clothes on their backs, rarely with even shoes on their feet? So these families get a child and run out to a store to get the basics that day of what they will need. So yes, they do need the money, because I know for so many they couldn’t do it without that extra help, but it’s not what they do it for, because 63 cents an hour just doesn’t cover all they do. Next time you have a bag of hand-me-down kid clothes, maybe instead of Goodwill, you could bless a Foster family in your life with them, because they will be used and so greatly appreciated.Roll-of-money

I am sure Ben and I have people that we don’t know about casting judgment our way, but we have way more casting love our way. I am so blessed, our life is full of people that are supportive and encouraging, from church, to family and friends, but most Foster families do not feel this way. Lets change that. The next time you catch your self wanting to judge or roll your eyes at the momma with many kids in tow, don’t, instead, lend a hand, a meal, encouragement, love and just watch and see just how far that love will go. #lovewins

We started

As long as I can remember we have wanted to adopt children. At one point in my life I actually said I didn’t want to have bio children I wanted to just adopt. I am so happy I didn’t listen to myself then, because our three children add so much beauty to this world. But even as teenagers both Ben and I would talk of our desires to adopt children one day. Well, fast forward many years, life happened, amazing kiddos were born, healing was happening, careers were being made, and that desire went on the sideline, till this past June when Ben and I took the first step towards adoption and are trudging along with the licensing classes and home study. We don’t know who this child will be but we have prayed for them as a family each night since starting this journey and we believe God is working out all the details. We are thrilled, nervous and over joyed with th As e thought of this child who our eyes have never seen but our hearts are already connected to and who will be joining our crazy home one day.
Children need mommies and daddies. They need committed parents who love them. They need someone who will come running in the middle of the night when they have had a bad dream or when the horror of their past catches up to them. They need predictability, they need discipline, they need love. They need a mailbox with their last name on it. They need a parent sitting in the audience when they are dressed like giant cloud or cheering on the sideline at their football game. They need a dad to wrestle with them, a table to sit around over a meal to share the highs and lows of their day. They need a place to call home. They don’t need a lot of money, expensive trips or the latest gadget they just need a family that no matter what is on their team. Ben and I can’t supply them with everything but thank God everything is not what they need. So, whether our family grows through foster to adopt or just adoption is still yet to be seen but we wanted to share the news, because without most of you this wouldn’t be a possibility, we love you guys and are so excited to continue this journey with all of you. ~ Martins