Jojo : a story of resilience and hope 

Jojo had been in foster care for most of her sixteen years, moving from home to home, foster parents unable to cope with her behavior. Early on, she tried hard to fit in, but years of uncertainty had built an anger inside her. Jojo had suffered so much rejection that even in good placements she argued, stayed out past curfew, and remained aloof from the family, almost daring them to throw her out. If she rejected them first, the pain when they rejected her was a little easier to bear.Every broken placement chipped away at Jojo’s confidence and the walls she built around her heart grew higher and stronger. Eventually, Jojo’s case manager told her that her last and only option was to live in a girls’ group home as there were few families able to cope with her. So she moved into the home, living with an ever changing group of teenage girls, and finally found some stability and a trained and caring staff to care for her. It was true that the regime was strict but now Jojo was able to relax a little. She was encouraged to focus on her schoolwork and quickly demonstrated a ready mind and the possibility of college became a reality.

During her final years of high school, a group of women from Living 1:27 Foster Care Ministry started visiting the girls once a month. The women were faithful and brought enrichment to the routine lives of the girls. They taught Jojo and her friends practical skills like how to apply for jobs and prepare resumes, they provided professional self defense training, they held summer book club, and they shared the Gospel through Easter teaching and through their selfless love. There were Christmas shows, nail painting parties, and the knowledge that someone cared and would faithfully visit.

Jojo did well at school and applied to college. She worked hard and despite years of disrupted schooling, Jojo was offered a place at university!

Everyone was overjoyed for her and so proud of what she had achieved, overcoming so much to have this wonderful new opportunity. There was so much to get ready, so much to buy to furnish a dorm room, books to get, and an exciting adventure to begin.

But Jojo didn’t have someone to go shopping for bedding with, no one to choose towels with, she had no one to help her make this great step into adulthood. The staff helped out and there was some money for supplies but then the Living 1:27 ladies had a genius plan! They told Jojo to create a wish list, stuff she would like if there was no limit, and they would find a way to make it happen. Jojo made her modest online list and it was sent out to the Living 1:27 community and gifts started flowing in. People could see how hard Jojo had worked, how she had succeeded despite the odds, and they wanted her to know that she was not alone.

Jojo is now a freshman at college and still needs our love and support. College is hard and learning how to study and live independently is challenging for all new students. For Jojo, leaving foster care means there is none of the family support that most young people take for granted. We can continue to love and support Jojo by letting her know that she has people who care for her. If you would like to send a loving and encouraging message to Jojo please send your letter or care package to Jojo, ℅ Fellowship Bible Church, 480 W Crossville Road, Roswell GA 30075

(Note: This a fictionalized story about a real girl, details have been changed but Jojo is real and would truly appreciate your love.)

Teens in foster care:Part 1

aathis world alone


The reality is that the majority of foster parents are not interested or equipped to care for teenagers in the foster care system. As a result, many older children are placed in group homes. In these homes, children are cared for by house parents and live their formative years in an institutional setting. The carers are dedicated and try to provide a caring family atmosphere but children crave a family of their own, to belong with people who care for each other.

Many of these teens can be challenging or withdrawn, protecting themselves from the impersonality of a life where they are essentially alone, fending for themselves. However, for the most part, the children are exhibiting the normal challenges of adolescent development which can be amplified by their living circumstances. Teens are literally adults -in-training. They want and need role models, life coaches, and opportunities to develop into the people they are destined to be.

Parents of teens know how much their children grow and mature during their middle and high school years, through trial and error, and with the support and guidance of family, friends, church, and peers. It isn’t easy. The environment of ubiquitous high tech, peer influence, and school pressure can derail even the most stable and connected child. Imagine how difficult it can be for an adolescent with no momma to help heal a broken heart, no dad to cheer you on when you are at bat, no momma to help you with that math problem. Teens need a solid base from which to launch into the world. Losing family, all that is familiar, and being forced to live in an institution where your friends come and go and where your adult carers leave at the end of their shifts can only lead, to a sense of isolation.

In the next post we will tell you about a Living 1:27 initiative, established more than four years ago, that is creating relationships  with girls at a local group home.









My life in the spotlight.

When you begin fostering, you are largely stepping out in faith, into a territory that you have never visited before. You feel like an explorer on a different continent … so much is strange and you have to relearn a lot of what you thought you knew.This post, penned by Janice McClean at her blog, speaks of some of the weird and fun experiences that you can find yourself in as a foster or adoptive momma.


Most of the time I live my life without much introspection; cooking, cleaning, helping with (interminable) homework, being a momma. However, there are times when the novelty and uniqueness of our family makes me sit back and consider this strange reality that I live.

For example, the Trader Joe’s where I normally shop is full of friendly staff who all know me and my children, and who always ask after them when I occasionally shop alone. All normal and natural so far, right? Well, apparently I have a twin who also shops there, who apparently looks so much like me that she is always asked how her kids are, not only at Trader Joe’s but at other local stores. Weird, huh? I am an old, tall, graying, Englishwoman, living in Georgia, with four black children and there is someone who is so like me that she is often mistaken for me! Spooky! Part of me is intrigued to meet her but there is another part of me that is scared that she is old, gray, 400 pounds and hideous looking … And we look just the same! One day I will meet my twin and I will take a picture and we may become bff’s.

I drive a silver minivan that has red flames on the hood, and minion stickers, and college and preschool decals on the back window. It is quite a noticeable vehicle. I drive it around with no thought to the decorations and have been busted at various Dairy Queens and Starbucks all around the north metro region. It’s just our van, our smelly, trash-filled van, and I don’t think about the novelty of the decor. But we get noticed … By little boys who marvel at the minions, by Starbucks drive-through baristas who wonder if the flames make our van go faster, and by older parents who comment about the various (rival) colleges where our tuition payments have gone.

I have been to many new and strange locations since becoming a foster mother, some where I have been the only white person in the room, where I have been one of the few English speakers, and also where my children have been the only non-white people present. It is strange and intriguing and exciting and mind expanding! I am not a public person, I don’t like to be the center of attention, but this novel life of mine has placed me in a very visible role. This old, white momma just took her son into a barbershop for his first haircut. I didn’t know the protocol, I didn’t know the name of the hairstyle he wanted, and I didn’t know how much it was going to cost. I just sat giving encouraging smiles and my boy came out looking so proud and handsome and grown up … Another adventure that will be easier the next time.

I have learned how to style my girls’ hair with greater or lesser success and this, in itself, has given me way more attention than I have ever craved in my life! I have had the whole range of responses, from an African lady who complimented me on Mimi’s braids and who told me I had ‘African hands’ to the numerous, well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) mamas who have offered advice, teeth sucking, and to style my girls’ hair for me. I have learned to be humble, asking for advice and complimenting little girls at the park so their mommas will give me tips. I have spent so much money on products and have learned that you can ask for recommendations from 100 people and you will receive 200 sure fire ideas! I have learned that good enough is good enough and that I would rather take my children to the zoo with wild hair than stay home to style it, to avoid a hair confrontation in the parking lot!

I have learned that love is love, that a child loves her momma no matter if their skin matches or not. I have found heights of love for children I didn’t birth but who mean the world to me. I love my life despite the spotlight that our everyday mundane shines on it. I will continue to have daily, minor adventures, outside of my comfort zone, out in the spotlight.

Remember to wave if you see my van of flames but please don’t suck your teeth when my tangled hair princesses run giggling and screaming at the park. Thank you.

PS If you come across my alter ego (you will know it’s not me because she won’t be looking frazzled and covered in kids) take a photo of her and ask her to find me on Facebook.



Today we hosted a training session for foster parents. There was a good turnout and the families brought their potluck casseroles and their children, to join together in fellowship and to learn. Thirty five children enjoyed a loving childcare experience as their parents, biological and foster, discovered more about how to relate to hurting children.

There were familiar faces and new families who had just learned of our ministry. There were children I had met before and there were children who were new to me. It is always amazing to witness the diversity of those enclosed in the world of foster care; multi-racial families, children suddenly in the role of ‘twin’ when they arrive in a temporary home, and parents from all walks of life opening their hearts and homes to children in need.

This afternoon I was especially struck by the humanity and the tragedy of children in foster care. The children were all well cared for and there were no obvious differences between the appearance of the bio children or their temporary siblings. On the surface, one can be forgiven for thinking that all is well and that the children are doing fine. In fact, when thinking about children in care, it is almost obligatory to imagine that everything is alright because the alternative is too horrendous to consider.

However, a conversation with a four year old, at the end of his first week in care, made me realize what a crazy, scary world it is for a small child.

He told me about his mother and where she was and that he couldn’t see her yet, and it made me think of my nearly four year old who cries if I leave her with her father for fifteen minutes when I run out for milk.

He told me that he likes broccoli and it made me think of our foster daughter who loved blueberries and who I worried wouldn’t get to enjoy them after she left us to return home.

He made me think about how confusing and terrifying it is for a little child to be taken away from all that is familiar to him, even if others have decided that moving is in his best interests. I thought about all of my seven children and how, over the years, they have each cried after being left at preschool and how they knew that, however scary it was, I would always come back for them. I tried to imagine a world where a four year old is deprived of the certainty of a momma’s return and it broke my heart.

I pray for those little ones who have to toughen up to protect themselves, and for those whose hearts are forever wrinkled. I pray for the foster families who offer an oasis of love and care as they stand in the gap with little ones whose burdens are too heavy for them to carry alone.1-22-11 (21)I pray that we can all stand with the families and the children they care for, and show them that there is love in the world and that while your momma cannot come back right now, we will stay with you and hold your hand while you wait.


The Okayest Momma in the World.


Being a parent is hard and wonderful and joyous and exhausting.

Looking after our little ones is more than a regular full time job, there are surprise night shifts, crabby co-workers, entirely too much dealing with the bodily fluids of others, and very limited personal space. But we do our best, we turn up and smile, we love.

The thought of becoming a foster parent can fill people with dread … What will the children be like? What’s it like to deal with DFCS? How will we protect our hearts when the children are reunited with their family? We are afraid we won’t be able to do it, we are afraid how it will change our comfortable life.

Stepping out into the unknown is always a challenge but often, out there in the uncomfortable ‘what ifs’, that’s where we find God. A foster child won’t judge your parenting skills if you smile at them and offer an encouraging word. A foster child won’t be critical of your cooking skills if you present them with the only regular hot meals they may ever have eaten. A foster child will want to listen to you read stories even if your character voices are awful. Like our own children, all they need is for someone to do their best, to turn up and smile, and to love.

To make an impact in the life of a child, to demonstrate the unconditional love of God, you don’t have to be the Mother Of The Year (thank goodness!) you can be the Okayest Momma in the World and love each child with an open heart and protect them in a time of tragic need. That’s not so hard, right?


Some Challenges for Young People in Foster Care You May Not Have Known

These troubling facts are from an advocacy website,, created for children in or from foster care to become connected, educated, inspired and represented so they can realize their personal potential and contribute to a better life for their peers.

Sibling separation Often brothers and sisters who enter foster care are not able to live together. It is not uncommon to hear stories of how communication was restricted while in foster care and siblings lose contact with each other.

Overnights not allowed “Hey, can you spend the night this Saturday?” Imagine answering that question with, “Are your parents willing to get a police background check first?” For some foster youth, this is a requirement.

No pets Kids who enter foster care, in most cases, are not allowed to bring their pets with them.

Happy 18th Birthday For some teens the only 18th birthday present they receive is a plastic bag to put their stuff in and a bus pass. Then they are informed they will have to find a new place to live.

Minutes to go When youth first go into foster care, they often have just minutes to pack. And often they must quickly stuff belongings into bags to transport it.

Driver’s license Many states do not allow kids in foster care to get a driver’s license. This can make it hard for a youth to prepare for life on their own by getting a job, particularly if they live in a rural area that has no public transportation.

Holidays for college students Most colleges close campus housing (dorms) during holiday breaks. Many youth report sleeping in their cars during these breaks because they have nowhere else to go.

Vacations optional Foster families often cannot afford to bring their foster children on vacations or they choose not to. If a family travels out of state, sometimes foster children are not allowed to go.

Losing my religion Because there is a shortage of foster homes across the country, moving in foster care may mean that a young person must move to a new city or county. Often it is not possible to stay connected to their church or to continue to play on a sports team because of the distance.

Honest Questions That Need Honest Answers.

thinking kid

Is God moving your family’s heart in regard to foster care or adoption?  Below are some excellent questions for your family to wrestle with as you begin your journey.

Has your family be in the foster care/adoption scene for awhile?  These questions are also a good review so we can remember and refocus on God’s call for us.

This article is a repost from the Tapestry website.


Ten Questions for Parents Preparing to Adopt or Foster

By: Michael Monroe ­ October 17, 2011

We believe it is critically important that parents who are preparing to adopt or foster a child must be honest and realistic about the journey and the challenges that lie ahead. Just as Jesus in Luke 14 challenged those who would follow him to ‘count the cost,’ so too parents who respond to God’s call to adopt or foster must be willing to count the cost of the adoption journey and prepare to “lay down their lives” to love their child and help him or her become all that God intends.

The following questions are designed to help parents (and parents­-to-­be) begin to honestly assess the journey ahead…and what it will require. We encourage you to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider these questions. They are not meant to scare you or in any way discourage you from continuing on this amazing path. Instead, our desire is simply that these questions will point you toward the hope and help that you need to form a strong and lasting connection with your child as you faithfully follow God’s call in your life.

  1. Are you willing to acknowledge and fully embrace your child’s history, including that which you know and that which you will likely never know?
  2. Are you willing to accept that your child has been affected by his/her history, possibly in profound ways, and as a result that you will need to parent your child in a way that exhibits true compassion and promotes connection and healing?
  3. Are you willing to parent differently than how you were parented, how you have parented in the past, or how your friends parent their children? Are you willing to “un­learn” certain parenting strategies and approaches that may not be effective with your child, even if you have used these strategies and approaches successfully with your other children in the past?
  4. Are you willing to educate yourself, your parents, family and friends on an ongoing basis in order to promote understanding of your child’s needs and how best to meet those needs?
  5. Are you willing to be misunderstood, criticized and even judged by others who do not understand your child’s history, the impacts of that history and how you have been called to love and connect with your child in order to help him/her heal and become all that God intends?
  6. Are you willing to advocate for your child’s needs, including at school, church, in extracurricular settings and otherwise, in order to create predictability and promote environments that enable your child to feel safe and allow him/her to succeed?
  7. Are you willing to sacrifice your own convenience, expectations and desires in order to connect with your child and help him/her heal, even if that process is measured in years, not months?
  8. Are you willing to fully embrace your child’s holistic needs, including his/her physical, emotional, relational and spiritual needs?
  9. Are you willing to seek ongoing support and maintain long­term connections with others who understand your journey and the challenges that you face? Are you willing to intentionally seek and accept help when you encounter challenges with your child that you are not equipped to adequately deal with?
  10. Are you willing to acknowledge that you as a parent bring a great deal to the equation when it comes to how your child will attach and connect? Are you willing to honestly examine (on an ongoing basis) your motivations and expectations relating to your adoption journey? Are you willing to look at your own past (including your past losses and trauma, both big and small) and consider how your past may impact your interactions with your child? Are you willing to consistently examine your role as parent as you experience challenges and difficulties along the journey?

As you read through the above questions, you may have concluded that some of the questions don’t apply to you and your situation? That may be the case to some extent, as every adoption and foster care experience is unique. However, we encourage you to spend some time reading and talking with other experienced adoptive and foster parents about what you should realistically expect as you travel this journey. We find that parents sometimes start with less than accurate assumptions about how the adoption or foster care journey will unfold, and as a result they are more likely to form   unrealistic expectations. We believe that these questions are helpful and instructive for all parents considering or pursuing adoption and foster care, and we hope that as you work through them they will  lead you toward greater insight and understanding.

Blog guilt… Hearts bonded. What? When?

Before we fostered any children in our home, I had never read a blog before.  Yup.  Crazy, huh?

After our girls came to live with us, John and I became immersed in a community of like-minded folks who have a heart for the orphans in this world.  With that, came introduction to various blogs.  I read all about experiences with PTSD, defiant behaviors, foster children’s statistics (now there’s a heart breaker!) as well as insights into how other adoptive moms think and run their home.  Lots of good advice and information.

And then we were into this a few months to a year.  Suddenly, I didn’t feel like the super stellar mom. In fact, I didn’t feel like a mom at all.  Just acting like one.  A lot of blog posts I read showed lots of really, really fun activities these super moms do with their kiddos.  I wasn’t doing those.  Not once did I make an amazing costume for my girls for Halloween or any other holiday.  Would my three girls think this new mom of theirs stunk at being a mom?

I had never been a mom before suddenly having three elementary school age girls landing in my home.  Would they understand I wasn’t sure had ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE what I was doing? Newborns can’t conceptualize how their brand new parents may have no clue.  But, my girls came walking, and talking….

But, the biggest thing I’ve had to overcome with my “blog guilt” is the time it took for my heart to bond with my daughters.  Over and over I read how adoptive moms (mainly international) felt their hearts bond to this child overseas, whom they hadn’t even met.

Guilt. Big time.  I didn’t have that heart’s bonding that they spoke of.  And these girls were here living with me!  Don’t get me wrong, I CARED about my girls, and even loved them. But, it was different.

As a physician, I’ve been trained to analyze the symptoms of a problem and come up with a diagnosis, so we can get a plan together to fix the problem.  Our girls came with lots of ‘problems”.  The easiest thing to focus on initially was the educational gaps – all were reading 3 grade levels behind, had atrocious handwriting, spelling, math and none knew how to tell time.  So I went to work at fixing the problem.  And worked hard.

But, I still didn’t feel like they were MINE.  I always referred to them as “my girls”.

So this blog post is for all those moms who’s hearts may NOT be initially so tightly bonded with your precious ones.  Mine wasn’t either.

But this is what I do know.  Our God is faithful.

We were following His command to care for the orphan and I knew He would equip me to do that in the best way for these children. He wouldn’t have placed His precious children in this home if they weren’t meant to be exactly here.  And He has been faithful to bond my heart to theirs.  How?  With time. And doing all the normal mom stuff – wiping the runny noses, tucking them in after a scary dream, checking lots and lots of homework, and kissing lots and lots and lots of boo-boos…

But most importantly, prayer.  That was my number one prayer request between years 1 and almost 4 when friends, who were brave enough to ask,  would ask how they could pray for me.   “please pray my heart would be bonded to theirs in a maternal way”.

Last fall, I ran onto the soccer field after our youngest had crumpled onto the field after being injured.  A huge lump in my stomach.  But the lump was different this time.  Then sometime later, I caught myself saying “my daughters“, not my girls.  WOW!  This was huge.  Really.  It signified an answer to years of prayer.  Catch that? YEARS of prayers.  He is faithful…

Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.  Deuteronomy 7:9 (NLT)

silhouette of mother kissing her daughter

A Tribute to a Man Who Earned the Title “Dad”

Dad and Daughter

I share the post below, as a tribute to a man who demonstrated our heavenly Father’s love for a young girl in need.

I share this post as an encouragement for the men currently demonstrating our heavenly Father’s love for young girls and boys in need.

I share this post for the men who sense God’s voice asking them to demonstrate His love for young girls and boys in need.

It’s a Yes or No Question!

So many of Jesus’s questions to us will leave us with only one of two options.  We like to stall, use but’s, or add qualifiers.  Jesus doesn’t buy it.  He just moves on and asks someone else.

The link below contains a story of a boy who wanted someone in a congregation to say yes to his plea.  As of now he is still waiting for a yes.  To say nothing is to say no.


I would like to say that Davion’s need and desire for a family is rare.  It is not.  In the US there are close to 100,000 children in foster care that could be adopted today.  If they aren’t asking the question that Davion asked it is probably because they have given up hope or don’t want to risk another rejection.

Jesus didn’t wonder if He had room for us.  He didn’t wonder if we would fit in His family.  He didn’t evaluate what we looked like or how smart we were.  He just adopted us.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.””  John 13:34, 35

If we are followers, then let’s follow our leader.