In the trenches

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I was listening to a podcast (you can find out more here) and they spoke about being in the trenches and watching God speak to you (and through you) during that time.

Since May is National #fostercareawarenessmonth I wanted to let you know how we have been deep in the trenches, and what all helped us during that time.

Fostercare is kind of like riding on a REALLY long rollercoaster, most of the time.  Between court hearings (and there is usually between 3-5 within the first year), traveling to and from all of the required appointments, counseling, and visits with the parents, you sometimes find yourself in the trenches of it all.

I remember many times where I just broke down and asked God “can I really do this?” “am I made out for this” and many more similar questions.  The overwhelming paperwork, the countless amount of people in your house all.month.long and the having to put your trust in such a broken system, can sometimes catch up to you.  BUT you know what?  You don’t stay in the trenches and yes you can do it!   You see the milestones that your foster children are able to reach, you see the LOVE that is just poured out of them with happiness and joy, and you see that you are making a difference in the life of that particular child (regardless if they remember it) forever.

Every one of us has gone through something (or will go through something) that will test our faith, our friendships, our marriage, etc.. it’s what makes us human.  It’s how we respond to that test that shows who we are as a person.

Did it hurt when we had to say goodbye to Gracelynn and watch her go back to people that we knew wasn’t the best for her? Yes! Did it hurt watching the boys have to suffer for SO long watching their biological parents string them along the entire way, just to disappoint them in the end? Yes! But it’s those trenches that God called us so fully depend on him and trust that everything would work out the way He intended on them to!

I am so glad that I have been through the good times and the not so good times with foster care because I wouldn’t be able to write this post with three beautiful adopted children that I get to call mine each and every day.

So friends, remember that when you are the trenches, it’s only temporary and that you can and will get through it (through faith, prayer, and action)!

Let me know if there is anything that you have questions on that I could help you with! I thank you all for continuing to follow along in our journey and know that I love and appreciate every single one of you!

©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

 

Why foster?

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I just wanted to write a post (since May is National fostercare awareness month) and answer a couple of the common questions that we would have wanted to know when we decided to dive into this journey!

After our daughter Rochelle passed away, Shane and I knew that God was calling us to love other children the way we would have loved Rochelle.  We knew that we had love to give, and knew that this was our calling that God was leading us to.  We did not know one married couple (at the time) who had ever fostered a child (or even adopted) so we definitely had some fears going into this process!

I remember that we googled “foster care in Texas” and what showed up was the state agency in San Antonio, Texas and we knew we had to at least go to the class and find out more information!

The teacher scared us so much and it made us ask ourselves “do we really want to do this” or “can we handle this situation”? There were so many unanswered questions and I truly feel like God just gave us to the answer to say “yes”. Saying yes didn’t mean that we were able to handle all the trauma or have an answer to how Brielle would be affected by accepting a child with trauma into our home..  saying yes meant that we knew we could love another child unconditionally even though we knew that they would most likely have to leave our home.  Saying yes meant that we could teach each child about God (even if they were only with us a short amount of time). Saying yes meant that we would pray over the parents that did wrong or made harsh mistakes that had their kid(s) taken away from them.  It meant that we were solely depending on God to bring us through it all.

The  training classes that we initially took in San Antonio were brutal (and broke us so hard hearing all of the sad stories) but so so worth it! Since the state agency was in no rush to get us to become a licensed home, we switched to another agency (Family Link–in Gonzales, Tx) and were licensed within a month of transferring over!

One common question is how often does reunification actually occur?  For us, one child (of the 8 that we fostered) actually were reunified with mom and dad once leaving our house, but have now been removed from them once again.  Parents actually don’t have a lot to get done during the time that their child(ren) are in care, so it should sound easy for them to return to them but the average time for the parents to get all their classes done and show proof that they have stayed drug-free is usually 6 months-1 year. What we have seen is that addiction is HARD and we pray for the biological parents all during the process (and even now) that they understand the beauty of what God had given them and that they let that addiction go and be able to love and provide for their child(ren) the way that they should.  The main goal in fostercare is to reunify with mom and dad, but so often you see SO much time go by during the case before that is even possible.

Another question is how much do you get paid?  Of course money is not why you should be called to do this, but it is part of the process, and does help provide financial aide to you.  For basic level of care children (most children are) I believe that each child gets around $650 per month and for moderate level of care I believe it’s between $650-$1,000 a month.  I am sure that different agencies follow different guidelines and the amount that foster parents get reimbursed (not sure if it’s the same rate throughout the state)but the money does not go unused.  Each child brought to us had very minimal clothing so you have to think that buying them an entire wardrobe is a must, buying diaper/formula, food, and  driving to therapy appts, counseling, doctors, and monthly visits with parents and siblings.  It is definitely helpful to have during the process.

One of the most important questions regarding Brielle is how does she adjust to “letting go” of the children? Our answer to that is, she has to.  We don’t sugarcoat anything with Brielle and we would give her advance warning (if it was given to us) that the child would be leaving our home and returning back to a family member or the parents. Brielle understands that we were there to take care of the child(ren) and to love on them and show them what it feel likes to have your needs met, be clean, and just be given unconditional love.   Did it break our hearts when they left? Yes, but Shane and I both feel like Brielle grew up so much the past two years with 8 foster children coming in and out of our of house.  The good thing is that three of them stayed and were able to be adopted and become Brielle’s forever sister and brothers.

Just know that even if God doesn’t call you to become a foster parent, there are ways to support other children/families that are in care.

-Meals (cook for the foster families without them having to ask you).

– Training (take some training so that you can babysit the children and let the foster parents have a night off or a weekend off).

-Just schedule a play date with the child(ren) that are in care.

-Just provide an ear (for both the foster parents and the kids and just listen to their struggles and see if their is a way that you are able to help them out).

-There are also ways to help out the agency (by donating gently used clothes or new toys, and more).

-Also if you would like an amazing podcast to listen to, head on over to Risen Motherhood and it will leave you inspired (especially the episode 99 on Foster care and the gospel).

Just remember, when God calls you to it, He will bring you through it.

I hope I was able to give you a little insight into why we chose to go this route and as always, feel free to reach out to me at any of my social media accounts or via email and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

my little man is 3 months!!

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So this time thing is just flying by with our baby boy (I didn’t get a chance to post the 2 month blog post–haha can we say life with 5 kids is a bit busy at times?)!  I can’t believe he celebrated two holidays this past month (first St. Patrick’s Day and Easter).  I feel like he has grown into such a little man this past month!! He is drinking around 3-4 ounces now with both breastmilk and formula and still doing great on both, and just now found his tongue (he mimics you and sticks it out–it’s SO cute!), and his hands (he holds them close to his mouth and it melts my heart). Ok I might be just a little obsessed with our last baby (I got the Essure procedure to prevent anymore future babies) and I am just trying to soak in all of his little “firsts”.

Weight: 14.5 pounds taken at home scale

Length:24 inches (taken at home)

Likes:

-To be held! It’s so adorable how much he LOVES when we are holding him!
-To be talked to (he SMILES so much, it’s adorable!!)
-To eat! We call him big hungry sometimes, because I swear he sometimes eats every 1-2 hours!
-To sleep! He has definitely started sleeping less during the day and more at night! (Shane is so happy for this since he does all the night duties–oh and thank goodness for a great husband)
-His jammies (even though he is seriously in 6-9 month ones already–because of his length)
-His carrier! He literally falls asleep in it almost instantaneously.

Dislikes:
– Bathing.  Hates going in and coming out of the bath. STILL.
– Changing his clothes.  He absolutely hates it now!

Teeth: None! 🙂

Language:
Besides the grunting, not much of a language yet (just a LOT of coo-ing)

Milestones: He is definitely lifting his head better and loves to move his upper and lower extremities, and LOVES to smile, and definitely rolled over from back to front one time this past month.  Oh and he slept one time ALL.NIGHT.LONG (can I get an amen?)

Upcoming:

MD appt:  4 month appt May 14th

I can’t leave y’all without pictures, so I will do a little update from each month!!

©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

Our foster to forever girl turns TWO!

So tomorrow is a day definitely to be celebrated because it’s Gracelynn’s first birthday as a JOHNSON! From the moment I laid my eyes on her, I knew that God has amazing things in store for her precious life.  He chose to give her life when it could easily had been taking from her with the use of some really harsh drugs while her biological mom was pregnant with her.  It’s God’s grace that saved her life, knowing how much of a profound impact she is going to make (and has already made) on so many lives.  Being born at 24 weeks gestation, at only 1lb and 8 oz.,she started out with this life as a fighter.  She fought to live, she surpassed ALL odds, she had amazing NICU nurses who loved her and treated her as if they were her own.

I am amazed at how everything worked out for the first four months of her life that we missed.  When we got the phone call from CPS stating that “there is a medically fragile newborn ready for discharge in the hospital in San Antonio, Tx” we immediately said yes.  THEN we got the phone call that stated that they chose US for this baby girl, and we got in the car right away to go meet her precious self! She was SO little for being 4 months old, and we had to gown/glove up from head to toe when meeting her because her high risk of spreading an infection/getting an infection.

Let’s just say two years have flown by, and we could have never imagined what a wild ride we would have been on with her case in foster care, and then finally closing that chapter of her life with her adoption.    Shane and I are both amazed by how much our baby girl has grown, how funny she is, and how incredibly hyper she is!

I wanted to leave you all with some sweet pictures of our baby girl from the moment we met, until now! Hope you all enjoy them (as much as we did/do)♥♥!!

Gracelynn- you were everything our family needed and we are so blessed and thankful that God picked us to be your forever parents and family!!

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©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.