Queen’s Birthday Honours List Recognises Child Advocates, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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A couple in  Invercargill New Zealand, who have fostered children with special needs for over 25 years, have been recognised in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, receiving the Queen’s Service Medal.  Talking about their decision to become foster carers, John Mooij says, “Everyone’s lives pan out in different ways. Some want to travel, some want to get their kids off their hands. Not everyone could do this, but it’s something we love.” [Source: The Southland Times].

This is not the first time people have been recognised for services relating to the care of and advocacy for children, but it is wonderful to see that this is becoming increasingly common.  Children’s issues, including the right to a place to be and grow up in are increasingly being seen as important and it is great to see, in this case, the care of children with special needs being acknowledged and supported.

“We don’t need a world full of rocket scientists but we just want our children to be the best they can and to have good life skills and get on and enjoy life, because that’s what it’s there for.”

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Foster Carers Lynda and John Mooij   [Source: Southland Times}

Mrs Mooij said she hoped their honours would draw attention to other children in need of a permanent foster home, particularly those with special needs.

“I get upset by how many placements some children have – especially those with fetal alcohol syndrome – who go from house to house.” [Source: Radio New Zealand News].

Lynda and John Mooij have five biological children between them and have fostered more than 21 children over the years.  They currently have four “forever” foster children.

The couple modestly say they are “…just a couple of foster carers from Invercargill…”, but it is encouraging to see how their important work has been recognised and how it has drawn attention to foster care, in particular for children with special needs.

How Being A Foster Parent Changed Me For The Better, by Mike Berry

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We’re often asked by folks who are considering foster care, “Is it worth it?” We always answer, “Yes!” But it’s not because the road of foster parenting rose to meet us. It’s been a journey. And the heartache has made us better human beings for it!

 

If you could go back in time and have a conversation with 11-year old me, at some point in the conversation baseball would have come up. Eleven year old me dreamed of being a major league baseball star. It wasn’t just a pipe dream like all kids had when they were that age. It was bigger.

I would have told you my full-fledged plan to work my way into the starting line-up of my high school team. I would explain how I was going to try out for the walk-on draft for the Cincinnati Reds the summer after my senior year. And then (hopefully) land a spot in the lower Single A or AA farm system. If that didn’t work, I’d surely have a scholarship to a top-notch division I school of my choice.

Not only could I articulate this at 11 years old…I had it written down. Sketched out in a notebook I kept, complete with stadium diagrams, imaginary starting line-ups, and statistics. Yep…big dream! What 11 year old kid goes to these lengths?

I wanted to be a legend on the diamond. I studied my hometown hero, Barry Larkin, and dreamed of one day starting for the Cincinnati Reds. I emulated Chris Sabo snagging sharp grounders down the third base line. I matched every move Eric Davis made as he stepped to the plate.

Ask me then and I would have told you….I want to be a star….I want to be rich….I want to be famous.

A Different Path.

That’s not the story my life would go on to tell. I ended up opting out of baseball by my senior year of high school. After 3 years of riding the bench, I looked to other things. After high school I went to a small Christian college on the westside of Cincinnati with barely a sports program. One year they decided to start up their baseball program and I tried out. But the flame had gone out. After a few practices, I hung up my glove and cleats for good.

Many would look at that and see the disappointment of dreams not coming true. After all, I had worked all those years to become the legend I had dreamed of becoming. But for what? On the outside it looked like nothing. But what I didn’t realize until years later was how perfect the story that was being told through my life really was.

And it had nothing to do with fortune, fame, or accolades.

In the spring of 2004, just 5 years after Kristin and I got married, she told me of a woman who was about to lose her two children to the foster care system. She suggested we get our license in order to care for them. I hesitated. At that point, we were the parents to 1 perfect baby through adoption, and all seemed fair in love and war. Plus, I had always heard horror stories about foster parenting. What I didn’t realize was this woman had actually personally asked Kristin to care for her children. So, in-spite of my hesitation I agreed and we fast-tracked through the licensing procedures. Sometimes you just have to step off the edge and ask questions later. We jumped.

Legends and Legacies.

Twelve years later….we’ve never looked back. As we stand on the other side of this massive season of our life, we both agree: we wouldn’t change a thing. We ended up fostering over 20 children, and 6 of them stayed with us forever. Foster parenting is one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. It’s nearly taken the life out of us. We’ve been to the darkest places of parenting, the darkest places of human thinking, and we have the scars on our hearts (and our arms) to prove it. We’ve lived through CPS investigations, defeating IEP meetings at our kid’s schools, and the overreaction of a case manager who was trying to make an example out of us.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com/how-being-a-foster-parent-changed-me-for-the-better/?mc_cid=70bd6e938c&mc_eid=169008643f

10 Powerful Truths About Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) That Will Change Your Perspective, by Mike Berry

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For the majority of the world, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is misunderstood and often judged. But, there are powerful truths that can change your life when you understand, and embrace them.

Anger.

That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about FASD. Anger.

I’m angry that my child’s birth mother would make the selfish choice to drink during her pregnancy, angry that the claws of addiction dug deeper than the conviction of pre-natal care, angry at the numerous therapists, doctors, and authorities who’ve downplayed or disagreed with my child’s diagnosis over the years, angry at a world that judges before seeking the truth, and angry when I think about the missing pieces of my child’s life.

The child I chose with love.

Most of all, I’m angry that he will never have a normal childhood. A part of his brain is absent thanks to a stupid choice, a lack of self-control, and an unwillingness to guard his precious life before he took one peek at the world. I know this sounds harsh but this is the stuff I wrestle with often. Sometimes it eats at me, grinding away at my soul like a jackhammer grinding away at concrete. Other times, it’s sadness. A deep longing to go back in time, before his conception, and beg his birth mother to not make the choice she would eventually make.

Yes, we reel in pain over this disease. After all, that’s what it is. It’s brain damage, and the worst kind too, as far as we’re concerned. We live with the devastation of our child’s violent outbursts that have brought trauma on our family so deep that we’re not sure we’ll ever heal from it. We wrestle but, we’re hopeful. In the midst of our life, which often looks more like a pile of ashes than a life, we have a hope and a belief that our child, our son, will succeed. It began a while ago, when we embraced some powerful truths about FASD…

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com/10-powerful-truths-about-fasd-that-will-change-your-life/?mc_cid=e4f566056a&mc_eid=169008643f