Where do hope, joy, peace, and love fit in places of pain?

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Hope. Joy. Peace. Love.

We talk about these four words a lot during the Christmas and Advent season. While they absolutely contribute to the warm, fuzzy, Christmas-movie feelings I love to have, they also read as a challenge. In the context of Christ’s birth and where we find ourselves as God’s people, it’s been helpful for me to remember just how radical these words really are.stocksnap_96rtp23cu4

DC127 exists because there are children spending this Christmas season (and the months after it) without a family or away from their home. We exist because there are parents struggling to keep their children out of foster care in the face of poverty, homelessness, and crisis. We exist because in the past two weeks alone, we’ve gotten calls from 6 single moms who are struggling to keep their children home – moms who love their children, but can’t do this alone.

When I think about the challenges facing these mothers, their children, and the children in DC’s foster care system, having hope, feeling joy and love, and being at peace is hard. Where do these four simple words fit in places of brokenness, systemic injustice, and so much pain?

This is when these words become radical, because they ask you to go against everything you see in front of you. We have to make an active choice to believe them. The Advent season is a reminder that Christ’s birth and the promise He brings is the reason for our hope, joy, peace, and love.

Maybe we should change it: Active Hope. Active Joy. Active Peace. Active Love.

Despite the pain and brokenness we see, perhaps:
Active hope is a call to action, believing things will change and staying discontent with the status quo.
Active joy is not letting despair win out, even when we feel stuck and without a path.
Active peace remembers that we serve a God bigger than the injustice we see.
Active love is doing the hard work of loving our neighbor despite differences, and carrying their burdens not in charity but in true relationship.

This isn’t always easy to remember, but as I think about the last year with DC127, I think about the many people in our network who demonstrate what it means to live out active hope, joy, love, and peace.

I think about the foster parents who stepped out not only to care for a child, but to love his mother and siblings as well. I think about the team who wrapped around a single mom of four, ensuring she had support and also bringing her into their church community and showing her the peace of Christ.stocksnap_76kvxq6tjy

I think about the ways many of you have supported DC127’s families through babysitting, donating diapers, or bringing joy through a meal:

  • the babysitter who spent the night at a foster home to give them some sleep,
  • the Host Home who picked up a child late at night after a house fire,
  • the couple who generously sent diapers, wipes, and clothes all across the city to support foster and host homes.

I think about each of you who have invested financially in DC127, and who have invested in the future hope of a city where no child waits for a home.

There are too many stories to list here. Thank you for the ways you’ve loved and shown peace to DC this year. I pray as you go through the Advent season you see the active hope, joy, love, and peace of Christ in your life.

Merry Christmas!

-Chelsea Geyer

DC127 Executive Director

Giving Thanks: Finding the Blessings in the Challenges of Serving Others

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By: Amy Hammond

fullsizerenderThanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.

Don’t get me wrong: I love celebrating the birth of our Savior and the renewing of faith that it brings each December… as well as the promise of redemption that comes alongside Easter Sunday. But Thanksgiving, to me, is a reminder to celebrate one of the most important tenets of walking in a life of faith: gratitude.

I have nice clothes, a safe home and a dependable car. I’ve been blessed with a devoted husband, a loving family and a supportive church community. These are all gifts I thank God regularly for giving me.

But what about my calling—my ministry? Am I thankful for the acts of service God has called me to?

As a foster mother, I’ll be the first to confirm that the things He asks of us are not always easy. From blow-torching lead paint off the walls in preparation for getting our license, to the equally fiery battle faced every day in advocating for the kids I serve—this is far from an easy job.

Particularly when it is time to let go.

My husband and I had a little boy placed with us in July at just a few weeks old. He was so tiny… and so sick. We spent many sleepless nights trying to understand this little one’s needs. One very specific feeding protocol and doses of medication later, this tiny guy has blossomed into a strong, happy and healthy six-month-old. He lights up when we walk into a room, and snuggles against our chests when he’s ready to sleep. As young as he is, he has grown to understand that he can trust us to take care of him. People who are not his family. People who—as is the case for many foster children—he might never have seen again once home with his family.

img_5468That’s why, as hard as we’ve worked to get to this point with this little human, we’ve worked twice as hard to show the same love toward his family, too. It started with letters and baked goods on visitation days, and has transformed into something much more. We’ve been invited to celebrate birthdays and graduations. A new house. And soon, even in the midst of loss we are bound to feel, we will also celebrate the reunion of this child we have come to adore with his wonderful mother.

Don’t get me wrong: Relationship is messy. It has meant forging new territory, all while trusting that the promptings we hear come from God. We are following where He is leading us in loving on this family, even when it might feel foreign to everyone involved.

Throughout this journey, people have shown us gratitude. They thank us constantly for what we do, for the sacrifice we must be willing to make. But the truth is, we don’t have to do this… we get to do this.

Matthew 20:28 says, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I have served this baby boy and his family, not for earthly recognition or eternal reward, but because this is not my life. It is His breath in my lungs, so I live God’s gift in a way that honors the One who gave it. Serving His children is such a blessing to me, and a calling I am incredibly thankful for.

There are moments in serving when you know unequivocally that God walks alongside you. His love for us is evident in the blessings that overwhelm by their magnitude, those bigger than you ever thought to pray for.family-pic

Two weeks ago this beautiful little one’s strong and selfless mother asked us to be his godparents.

Even as I was mourning the end of this season, God was still writing the story.

There’s a question my church asks often: Are you putting a period where God has put a comma? With this holiday quickly approaching, I beg you to pray about the story He’s writing for you right now. Let’s look at the struggle with gratitude, as this is the gorgeous mess He’s using to mold us. Let’s give thanks that He is the savior of the world, and He carries that world—and all of us, so precious in His sight—within His capable hands.

Amy is a foster parent in Washington, DC. She and her husband, Adam, have cared for 4 children in foster care over the last year. 

#GivingDay : Will you help spread the word?

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Hey friends,

Giving Day 2016 is coming up on November 3rd! And we’re getting really excited.

At some point in time, someone told you about DC127. And before that someone told that person, and before them someone else shared about DC127, and so on. That’s how a network works. YOU spread the word. You share with another person at your church or in friend group. You are the one who keeps it growing. DC127 has only grown because people like you have helped spread the word.

And today, we need to share about DC127 more than ever.

Will you help us spread the word about Giving Day and invite your friends, family, and coworkers to join you in caring for DC’s children and families? Will you invite them to also invest in finding homes for children and support for families in crisis?Charli instagram pic

You might be surprised by what happens.

Can I tell you a quick story about what happens when people tell their friends about DC127?

We had a volunteer for Foster the City, one of our first events. Let’s call her Courtney. Courtney invited her housemates to also volunteer at Foster the City. These new volunteers believed in what DC127 was doing. So they took it back to their church. They introduced it to their pastors and their congregation, and their church became a partner church. Because Courtney shared DC127 with her housemates, a new church joined the DC127 network and they recruited volunteers, Host Homes, and helped spread the word to other churches.

We’ve only grown because people just like you have helped us spread the word.

Last year, you helped us raise $30,000. This year our goal is $40,000. We can do this, but only with your help. When you invite your friends to give on Giving Day, you’re helping us raise more money to find more families for children and support for families in crisis. You’re ensuring that we raise the funds we need to keep going and to keep growing. You’re equipping DC127 to reach out to more churches, find more volunteers, and ensure that we keep going until every child has a home.

Will you help make Giving Day a success?

Here are three ways you can be a Giving Day champion:

  1. Email 10 friends, share why you care about DC127, and invite them to give on November 3rd. If you send the list of names and emails you contact to info@dc127.org, we’ll track how much YOU raise. You can also set a personal goal ask people to contribute towards it. Find sample emails here.
  2. Post on Facebook once a week until November 3rd, and twice on the 3rd. (Sample posts below!)
  3. Tweet 5 reasons why you care about #GivingDay and invite your followers to join you. (Sample tweets below!)

Check out the sample posts and tweets at the bottom of this blog and click here for sample emails.Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 11.34.18 AM

I know it can be scary to ask people to donate. But when you invite your friends to support DC127 on Giving Day, you’re giving them the chance to invest in the lives of families and kids in DC.

If you have any questions at all, you can email us at info@dc127.org or call us at 202-670-1145.

Will you help make Giving Day a success by sharing the day with your friends and family?

Thank you for being part of this network and for believing with us that Washington, DC can be a place where every child has a home.

Best,

Chelsea, DC127 Executive Director

P.S. The Prospect is hosting a happy hour for us from 6-9pm on November 12th to celebrate. You should come (and invite all your friends)!

Click here to get pre-written emails to share

Facebook Posts

Hey friends – I’m part of a movement in Washington, DC called @DC127. On November 3rd, they are hosting their annual Giving Day. Would you take a second and learn more about it? When you donate to DC127, you help build bridges between families in crisis and the support they need. Learn more and read about a mom named Aniya here: http://bit.ly/2ehxUky

I think every kid deserves a family. And we all know it takes a village. Today in DC, there are kids who don’t have a family and families who need help. Will you join me and support @DC127 on their Giving Day to find families for kids and get DC families the help they need? http://bit.ly/2ehxUky

Today is @DC127’s Giving Day! When you donate, you build a bridge between families at-risk of being separated by foster care and the support they need. I’d be honored if, as my friend, you invested in a movement I care so much about: http://bit.ly/2epfXgb

Tweets!

Send this Tweet:I’m part of @reversethelist because every child deserves a home. Help me make their work possible? #GivingDay http://ow.ly/I5uy305hdEU

Send this Tweet: #DC can be a city where EVERY child has a home. You can make this possible. @reversethelist  #GivingDay #fostercare http://ow.ly/OG8D305he9C

Send this Tweet: Today I’m supporting @reversethelist so families get the help they need to stay together. Join me? #GivingDay http://ow.ly/VONV305her1

Send this Tweet: Nothing will change for kids in #DC unless we act. Join me today for kids in #fostercare- #GivingDay @reversethelist  http://ow.ly/7W6s305heS4

Send this Tweet: Struggling families should have access to the help they need to stay together. @reversethelist  #SafeFamilies http://ow.ly/KPhW305heWK

Send this Tweet: I’m part of @reversethelist . Check out their work  (http://ow.ly/cLuV305hf1Z) & make it happen on #GivingDay http://ow.ly/tg6V305hf3c

 

Giving Day 2016 is coming up! Read Aniya’s story and why we need you

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**BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! Your donation on Giving Day can be matched! Thanks to a few generous donors, every gift made will be matched, dollar-for-dollar up to $15,000! Click here to donate and double your impact.**

Hello,

We have a big day coming up – a day where we absolutely, 100% need you: November 3rd is our 2016 Giving Day.

Giving Day is one-day, online campaign where we’re asking each of you to give what you can towards finding homes for children in foster care and supporting families in crisis.

I want to tell you a quick story about one of those families.

We recently got a call from Aniya. Aniya is a single mom who loves her son but is currently homeless. Not too long ago, she even had to lie about waiting for a doctor in the hospital so her son could sleep safely in the waiting room. Aniya is a veteran. She is da2dc528-5954-4ed3-b60b-0328e396e97a (1)working hard to get back on her feet. She’s in a jobs program, and making strides. But she can’t do it alone. Aniya deserves to get the help she needs to keep her son out of foster care. We believe this is what the church is good at. And this is what Giving Day on November 3rd is all about.

On November 3rd, will you invest in DC127 and create the bridge between Aniya’s family and a supportive community who can help her reach her goals?
(Sign up to get a personal reminder here)

Last year on Giving Day, you raised $30,000. This year, our goal is to hit $40,000. This money will allow us to continue recruiting foster homes so children have stable places to live and to continue providing supportive communities to families like Aniya’s. We think you’re reading this blog because you agree that children deserve to grow up in a home and have a family. Giving Day is a chance for you to help ensure that every child in DC has the chance to grow up in a stable family.

When you give on Giving Day, you’ll be equipping us to reach out to more churches, recruit more foster homes, and find more volunteers who are willing to walk with parents like Aniya.

It costs us $28 to train one Safe Families Host Home, $46 to present to a new church, $75 to present valuable information to about 6 prospective foster families, $100 to cover the entire intake process for one family in crisis and the list goes on (you can see the whole list here). The moral of the story is that when you give any amount, you are tangibly investing in the lives of children and families in DC. You are making sure that kids in foster care have homes to go to and that when a single mom like Aniya feels like she’s run out of options, she has somewhere to call.

When you give on November 3rd, you’re investing in children and families in DC.

We have a big vision. We are asking you to donate because you share our vision that Washington, DC can be a place where every child has a home and families get that support they need to stay together. We are asking you to donate because you, like us, refuse to let parents like Aniya live in isolation.

IMG_6348 (1)Will you give on our November 3rd Giving Day and create the bridge between families like Aniya’s and the communities in our churches that will help her thrive?

You can click here to pledge a gift and we’ll send you a personal reminder on November 3rd.

We’re excited for Giving Day. We’re excited because it’s a day where people in DC show their commitment to the kids and families in
– Chelsea, DC127 Executive Director

P.S. We’re also hosting a happy hour on November 3rd to celebrate the work everyone in the DC127 movement has accomplished this year. Join us at The Prospect on U ST from 6pm-9pm. RSVP here!

P.P.S. If you’ll be out of town on November 3rd, or just want to donate early, you can click here and donate anytime.

Want to hear how DC127 has helped one DC family? Hear Ms. H’s story here:

 

What Happened To You? A Lesson In Trauma Informed Care

Posted by | Blog, Foster Care and Adoption, Safe Families for Children, Supporting Families | No Comments

By Amanda Coquyt, DC127 Fellow and MSW Candidate

DC127 is hosting a Trauma Informed Care Training on October 6th. This blog explains why trainings like this are so important for volunteers that work with families who may have experienced trauma. Learn more and RSVP for the training here

When I started as a social worker in the foster care system in 2008, I thought I was going to change the world. I had dreams of connecting with children and families, fixing all of their problems, and knowing what an impact I had on their future as I left them to live happily ever after. Did I mention I had zero experience with the foster system before I got my social work degree? It’s also worth noting that I had led a pretty great life overall. Trauma was a foreign concept that we skimmed over during my brief training to become a case manager. But, I quickly learned that trauma impacts a person from infancy throughout their adult lives. Not only does trauma impact individuals emotionally, but it also impacts behaviors, personalities, and relationships.

Fast forward to 2009. I was a seasoned case manager by that point (it doesn’t take long!) and had one incredibly challenging 16-year-old teenager on my caseload, Melissa. She was confident, intelligent, and outgoing. She was also manipulative, sneaky, and struggling with addiction and depression. While we didn’t start out on the best of terms, Melissa came around and we had a decent rapport. And then she ran away. And then she ran away again. And again. No matter where we placed her, Melissa ran. One day she called and told me she was ready to stay put, but she needed to pick up her things from the location she had been squatting at while on the run. I was so excited! I had finally gotten through!

So, I picked her up and left her at her new foster home with the expectation we would see each other the following week, and I headed home filled with pride at how I had been able to get her to stay put. Sure enough, about 15 minutes after I left I got a phone call from Melissa’s new home- she had run away again, taking all of her belongings with her. I was stunned. How could that happen? I had just done everything Melissa asked, and even stopped at McDonald’s to get her a chicken sandwich! I had been kind and helpful. What more could she want?
That’s when I learned perhaps one of the most important lessons about BC1C7B577Churt children. Melissa didn’t do this to damage my pride or waste my time.
She told me she would stay so I would come pick her up from a situation she no longer wanted to be in. She told me she would stay with the condition that her belongings be picked up so I would fit everything into my beat up little car and get her dinner. She did what she had to do to survive. We all cope the best way we know how, and Melissa’s traumatic past had taught her that sometimes you have to manipulate people to get by.

Melissa had been in care since she was 5 years old and was separated from her only sibling. Melissa’s parents had been in and out of her life. Melissa was left to take care of herself the only way she knew how because she couldn’t count on anyone else to do it, at least not for very long. Melissa’s past shaped how she dealt with her present.

I had not suffered any significant trauma before jumping headfirst into child welfare. I certainly didn’t know how to recognize it in others. Even now, all these years later, it’s still easier to react to surface behaviors than to truly dig deeper. Perhaps the best tool I have learned throughout my time as a case manager is to be aware of the possibility that a person could have experienced significant trauma in their lifetime that I may never know about and this trauma affects the way they function in everyday life. Rather than asking why a person is acting a certain way, we need to ask what may have happened in their past to create a need for these behaviors. Recognizing trauma in a person can be very difficult, and understanding it can be time-consuming and exhausting. But the potential positive outcomes can be life-changing. We aren’t here to fix people. We’re here to support hurt children and families in their healing process.

DC127_Foster_Adopt_ParentsMelissa still calls me. Now 24 years old and a mother, we speak at least weekly (and more often when she’s down on her luck). She doesn’t always like what I have to say or the suggestions I make, but she listens. She isn’t the most financially successful person, but she provides a safe, stable home for her daughter. She may not have a formal education, but she is still one of the most empathetic young women I know. She is being treated for her lifelong mental health issues. She is engaging in counseling to process her lifetime of pain.

Thankfully, for Melissa, her trauma now means a commitment to do things better for her daughter, Shannon.

fullsizerenderAmanda grew up in central Florida and worked in the foster care system there for 8 years. She relocated to DC in 2014 and is currently earning her Master’s degree in social work from Catholic University. She’s working with DC127 from May 2016 to December 2016.

How a #FAIL taught me a lot about the world

Posted by | Blog, Faith, Foster Care and Adoption, Safe Families for Children, Supporting Families | No Comments

By Jessica Smith, Safe Families for Children Manager

I grew up in a small farming community in the midwest. There was zero diversity. Our village (yes, it was so small they called it a village) was made up of white, middle class Christians. I was so excited to leave and attend college in a city. On my first day, eager to make friends, I met Mike, an African American man from Detroit. Me, trying to find any connection I could, spotted a round, flat, bristle-filled brush sitting on his desk. “You have horses, too!” I exclaimed with joy (the brush looked exactly like the one I used on my horses back home). He gave me a funny look and hesitantly told me that’s what he used on his hair. I was so embarrassed. #FAIL

IMG_2591Maybe you have a story like this (most of us do- it’s nothing to be ashamed of). In a world with so many cultures, there are bound to be times where our differences collide. If you’re involved with DC127, you’re likely building a relationship with someone or caring for a child who has a different background than you. And that can be scary. But if we truly want to build relationships that cross bridges, and care for children and families well, we must be willing to learn about their culture and become more aware of how different people live life.

There’s a phrase for this: Cultural humility. Cultural humility is about being aware and appreciating where you come from and how that has shaped your perception of the world.
I can’t change where I grew up or what brushes I used for my horse, but I can recognize how my experiences shaped the way I view the world and created the bias I carry around.  Cultural humility means I am aware of how I view the world, but I also take steps to learn about other people’s views and value these differences.

Cultural humility demands openness. We have to admit that we cannot, and will not, ever know everything about the world. We have to be willing to take ourselves out of positions of power and privilege and admit that we don’t know how a parent feels, and we don’t know what they are going through.  Openness allows us to learn from the people we’re walking with, which in turn creates stronger and longer lasting relationships.

Openness allows us to learn from the people we’re walking with, which in turn creates stronger, longer lasting relationships.

So how can we practice the art of cultural humility in our relationships with children and families?

  1. Listen. Really listen to someone’s story. Make sure you’re not just listening to think of solutions. Ask questions, summarize, and reflect on what the person said.
  2.  If you don’t know something about a person, don’t make assumptions. We may never know someone’s whole story. But when we make assumptions, we’re robbing someone of sharing their story with us from their perspective. IMG_2494 (1)There’s an especially high risk of us assuming things about a family because they are involved with Safe Families or foster care.
  3. Get outside of your comfort zone. Try thinking of a situation through someone else’s view. Ask a person where they feel comfortable meeting or eating. For example, your favorite indie coffee shop might make someone else incredibly uncomfortable. What are their favorite places? Maybe they can teach you something new about the city?

When we sign up to walk with a parent or care for a child, we’re not signing up to change or save someone. We’re entering into a relationship amongst equals where we can join together and get through a tough time. We’re modeling love, acceptance, and reliability. We can’t become more focused on fixing the situation, than loving the person and their family. Our relationship with parents and families in crisis must first be an equal relationship between two humans, and not a transaction of help. But in order to achieve this we must respect their culture and humbly admit that we don’t know everything about it.

Month of Prayer, Week 4: For the People of God

Posted by | Blog, Faith, Foster Care and Adoption, Resources and Awareness | No Comments

cosmic stock photo

We’re marking February as a month of prayer (read more about why this is important here). Join us each week as we pray for a different aspect of the child welfare system and our call to care for children and families. You can read last week’s post here.

In 2012, a small group of people at The District Church were praying about how they could get involved in caring for kids in foster care. Through prayer and investment from other local churches, DC127 was created. The reach of DC127 would not be possible without the efforts of our local churches. We have 10 partner churches, have recruited 23 Host Homes, are serving 10 foster families, and have over 100 volunteers. While we are thankful for the favor we have had so far, the need is still great. There are over 1,100 children in DC’s foster care system, and even more children are at-risk of entering foster care. This week, will you join with us to pray for churches to answer God’s call, care for children and families, and demonstrate the love of Christ to a hurting city?

This week, will you pray with us for:

  • Churches already involved: Thank God for the pastors, deacons, volunteers, and Church Coordinators already helping advance the mission of DC127 in their own communities. Pray that they would continue to sustain their efforts.
  • Future churches working with DC127: Pray that God would continue to call pastors and congregations to labor alongside DC127, and for churches to specifically join us in creating Safe Families teams and supporting parents choosing to adopt or create foster homes. Pray for churches that represent all demographics to join and work together for our city.
  • Church Coordinators: Our Church Coordinators make DC127’s work possible. Thank God for existing volunteer coordinators, who organize and run DC127’s ministry in their churches. Pray that God would continue to grow them and grant them favor as they work with their pastors and congregations to rally support and organize for DC127.
  • Church communities: Pray that the communities around our churches would take note of the work they are doing and respond not only with an interest in the work they do with the foster system, but with open hearts to the Gospel.

Thank you for praying with us!

And we’d like to say a special thank you to Megan Roberts from Restoration Church who wrote the blog for this month. She made these blogs happen. Thank you, Megan!

 

Here are some resources to learn more:

Watch our friend Jason Weber talk about why we all need to bring our gifts, talents, and skills to the table in order to make something awesome happen.

 

Hear our keynote speaker from One City. One Hope 2014 cast a vision for what could happen in Washington, DC when the churches unite:

Month of Prayer, Week 3: For Every Child Welfare Professional

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cosmic stock photo

We’re marking February as a month of prayer (read more about why this is important here). Join us each week as we pray for a different aspect of the child welfare system and our call to care for children and families. You can read last week’s post here.

The foster care system in our city is made up of hundreds of social workers, police officers, court officers, counselors, and other government and service providers. This week, we are praying for those who have chosen to make a career out of caring for children and ensuring they have a safe place to live and thrive. And if you’re one of these people, we are grateful for you and your work!

For this week, we talked to a local DC social worker about the challenges she faces and what she needs from her community. Here’s what she had to say:

“A few weeks ago, I met someone and we we were small talking. He asked my husband and I both what we do and he was happy to chat with my husband about the law. And then he awkwardly turned to me with the oh-too-familiar-sympathetic-head-nod and said,’Wow, I don’t know how do you what you do,’ and asked, ‘How do you do it?’ I paused, truly caught in the depth of the suffering I spend all day wading through, and took a moment before laughing awkwardly and shrugging, unable to come up with anything to say. The guy looked at me again and said, ‘What does social work do to you? My sister has been a social worker for 6 years and she gets that same vacant look in her eye when you ask her about it.’

In the “ReMoved” video, pay attention to the social workers face at 4:16, 5:04. I know that look. The resignation, the punched-in-the-gut, I’m trying not to cry because I have to be strong, but I’ve also built a wall to protect myself so it’s not hurting as much as it will hurt when I’m in the car on the way home.

But I have to do what I do. I have to jump in, I have to fight, I don’t have a choice. As a firefighter runs into the burning building, I dive into the brokenness and hurt of a family ripped apart, of innocence torn away, of the system that is so clogged down and distorted that it does the exact opposite of what it was intended to do. And while I go in willingly, sometimes I get stuck there. The darkness swallows me, I give too much of my heart away, and I am too weary to climb out. My work invades my dreams and steals my sleep. My to-do list grows faster than I can keep up with, and every phone call brings more bad news. And yet, I must press on. I must give a voice to the children and families who are overlooked, forgotten, undeserved.

Being a social worker in DC, the contradictions and contrast of the Capital city are staggering. I gaze at the iconic skyline as I drive to homes without running water. I walk past museums and federal buildings to the hollow halls of the courthouse where lives are mutilated more often than they are healed. I spend the day working with a child whose mother has abandoned her, and who has been in eight foster homes in the past year, and then I go to happy hour where it’s all about who you know and what you do, and the ‘I’m a social worker’ line gets that awkward silence and a quick dodge out of the conversation. Occasionally someone will do that familiar, sympathetic nod and say, ‘Wow, that’s hard work, I could never do it.’ I don’t want sympathy, I don’t want pity or misunderstanding or ignorance. What I want is for these people to understand if they saw the world I did, they would have no choice but to do the work.. And, I don’t need people to remind me how hard the work I do is — I am fully aware of that. I don’t need people to tell me I’m a saint — I know how often I fail my clients. What I do need is someone to smile at me, to encourage me, to not shy away from the hard places and to say, ‘What you’re doing is important and it matters. I’m so glad you’re there, keep up the good work.’ I probably won’t believe it at the time, but it might seep in, and in the cold moments of sleeplessness, or the vulnerable moments of a long run, maybe it would sneak back up on me as a glimmer of hope in the midst of despair.”

This week, will you pray with us for:

  • Social workers and other front-line workers: Pray that they would do their jobs with patience, empathy, and wisdom. Pray that God would help them endure through difficult days, equip them as they face new challenges, and encourage them as they work with families and children who in tough situations.
  • Government employees: Pray that they would work with children’s needs first and foremost in their minds, and that the people of DC would have wisdom in choosing local government leaders. Pray that each government worker would be given the resources needed to protect vulnerable children in our city, and strengthened as they deal with hard situations.
  • Child and Families Services Agency (CFSA): CFSA is the government agency that oversees DC’s foster care system. Pray that each employee there would be moved by compassion for the children and families they serve. Pray for Director Raymond Davidson as he leads CFSA and pray for wisdom as he makes decisions and policies that affect so many. Pray for encouragement and strength for the Deputy Directors, supervisors, assistants, and each employee who makes CFSA run.
  • Service providers and non-profits: There are many private non-profit organizations serving kids and families in DC. These groups range from foster care agencies, to mentor organizations, to advocacy groups. Thank God and pray for each citizen serving DC’s children. Pray that God would sustain them as they not only do the hard work of serving children, but also run organizations and find funding. As these groups address gaps in the foster care system, prayer that they get the resources they need, whether that’s funding or volunteers.
  • Police, EMS, and first responders: Pray that they would work unto the Lord, protecting and helping families and children in crisis, and ensuring that children would get the care they need. Pray for their safety and for wisdom as they make quick decisions in tense situations.

Here are some resources to learn more about how government agencies, social workers, and the church interact:

Listen to Dr. Deb Shropshire talk about her powerful experiences as a pediatrician called to the child welfare system and how she remember’s God’s promise amidst so much brokenness:

Hear from Dr. Sharon Ford on why the government needs the church to cross the aisle, learn about the child welfare system, and serve children in foster care:

 

Thank you to Megan Roberts for her help with this post!

Month of Prayer, Week 2: Building New Families

Posted by | Blog, Faith, Foster Care and Adoption | No Comments

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We’re marking February as a month of prayer (read more about why this is important here). Join us each week as we pray for a different aspect of the child welfare system and our call to care for children and families. You can read last week’s post here

When children in foster care aren’t able to return to their family, adoption becomes the new goal. In the US, there are currently 415,000 children living in foster care without the stability of a permanent home. Of those children, over 101,000 are waiting to be adopted, and 32% of them will wait three years or more before they are adopted. Safe and loving foster homes are essential for each child in foster care during their time of transition.

The promise of adoption is central to God’s love for us (Ephesians 1:5). Over and over we are told how much we are loved as children of God adopted into the family of God. We also see verse after verse about God’s call to care for children, for the orphans, for the vulnerable, and we are told that God places the lonely in families. Just as we were lonely and God adopted us into his family, this week will you pray for the children across our country who need to be placed in families?

 This week will you pray with us for:

  • Children who need to be adopted and are unsure of their future: Pray that each child waiting for a stable and permanent home would experience peace and calm. Pray specifically for older youth, who often wait longer for homes, and for children living with disabilities, that they would each find a family that can care for them. Pray that the 552 teens and young adults (53% of all kids in DC foster care) in DC’s foster care system would receive the support, mentors, and families they need.
  • Foster parents who are caring for children for the long term: Pray for sustained encouragement and energy to provide a safe home for children to thrive however long the child is with them. Pray for them as they navigate a complicated system, keep up training hours, and ensure the child is receiving the care he/she needs.
  • Adoptive families: Pray for them as they create bonds with their children. Pray that as a family they would create memories and stories together and become one unit. Pray for wisdom as these parents navigate relationships with the children’s birth families and as they work to meet the specific needs of their children.
  • More adoptive homes: Pray for more homes to hear and listen to call to adopt children from foster care. Pray specifically for more homes to adopt older youth and kids with various needs. Pray for these homes as they go through what can be a difficult licensing process and for them to have patience and support from their community as they start this journey.
  • For Adoption Recruiters: Pray for them as they search for homes for specific children. Pray that the recruiters would divinely meet the right people, attend the right events, and have wisdom as they make potential adoptive matches.

Here are some resources and ways you can be involved:

Watch a powerful 4-minute video from performance poet Shaun Welcome, sharing stories of children in foster care:

FMU – Welcome – Spoken Word Clip from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Watch an 8-minute video on why caring for children in foster care is the responsibility of the church:

 

 

Thank you to Megan Roberts for her help on this blog!

Month of Prayer, Week 1: Keeping families together

Posted by | Blog, Faith, Foster Care and Adoption, Safe Families for Children, Supporting Families | No Comments

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When a child enters foster care, the first goal is always to reunite them with their families as soon as it’s safe to do so. Reunification is a beautiful portrait of the Gospel (Luke 15:11-32), and mirrors the redemption we receive from God. Unfortunately, only half of all children in the foster system are ever reunited with their families, and a third of those return to foster care within three years. This is why it’s also so important to support struggling families before children are ever removed. Every mom and dad should be able to get the help they need to keep their family together.

This week, will you pray with us for:

  • Children who are struggling:  Pray they experience peace and calm, and know they are loved and are able to establish a sense of stability wherever they are
  • Parents who are working to reunite with their children: Pray for strength in what can be a very long and difficult process, and for them to get access to the resources, encouragement, and support they need
  • Foster parents who are caring for children temporarily: Pray for them as they strengthen the child’s relationship with his/her biological family, and for comfort when that child eventually goes home
  • Social workers and organizations working with parents: Pray for wisdom as they make decisions about next steps and resources, compassion as they encounter difficult situations, and strength as their days are often very long
  • Safe Families for Children and other prevention initiatives: Pray for them to be connected with the families who need their support, and for these initiatives to get the volunteers and financial resources they need

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in learning more about reunification?

Here are some resources and ways you can be involved:

Watch a 4-minute story from a foster dad on how God taught him the importance of loving a child’s biological family:

And here’s a 7-minute video from the Executive Director the national Safe Families for Children network on why prevention work is so important:

 

 

Thank you to Megan Roberts for her help on this blog!

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