Yours, Mine, Ours, and Theirs

By Rachel Eubank

You can find more articles by Rachel at Normalizing Foster Care.

I have 11 permanent siblings and have had over 150 foster siblings through the years. With a family like that, we always got a lot of questions:

Are they all yours? Do you run a daycare? Whose kids are these anyway?

Before my parents met, they had previous marriages and children. When their families blended, they already had five children between them but even then, they knew that they wanted more. With my father having been in foster care his whole life and my mother being interested in fostering because of the influence of a favorite Aunt, becoming foster parents was almost pre-determined for them. They began fostering in 1975, shortly after they were married and three years before I was born.

I am the only biological child between my parents. I have 5 older half siblings from their previous marriage and 6 more siblings who were adopted throughout my parent’s foster care journey. As I was growing up, I always felt like my position in the family was a special one; I was an only child in a very large and diverse family.

There was not a time in my life that has not been touched by foster care. My parents fostered as they raised their biological families and continued to foster children in the Detroit area for a total of 35 years. A revolving door of siblings and social workers was completely normal and expected in our home. My Dad worked outside the home and for most of those years, my Mom worked in the home taking care of all of us.

The family ride, a huge passenger van! Lots of seats for lots of kids.

Our house was always full, always loud, and always busy. You never knew who was going to be at the dinner table when you got there. One night I had a friend over for dinner with the family. When my Dad got to the table after working for the day he walked by, patted my friend on the head with welcoming smile, and sat down to eat with us. After dinner he asked her if she had any pajamas with her and she said she didn’t.

“Go get her some of yours, Rachel,” my Dad said to me.

“Dad, are you sure?” I answered.

“Rachel, you know that we share everything we have, no matter what, please go get her a pair of pajamas and get ready for bed.”

I did what my Dad asked me to do and my friend got all settled in for the night. When my Dad stopped in to tuck us in and say goodnight, I hopped up and gave him a huge hug and said, “Thank you so much for letting my friend sleep over on a school night!!” From that night on, he always checked to see which kids were supposed to stay and which were supposed to go home after dinner!

Meals at our home were filled with laughter and not a small amount of chaos. My parents were playful so they often found a way to make meal time fun. We piled muffins wrappers on my Dads plate at the end of the meal and teased him for eating to much or played telephone with our empty milk cups. My parents often tell the story of when my sister wanted to play telephone but forgot to drink her milk first! Spilled milk and messes were normal for this many kids and it quickly became a favorite story to tell for years.

Mom always decorated and gave us a special meal for Valentines Day.

Just like every other family we have had ups and downs. Some of the kids that lived with us stole our hearts and broke them into pieces when they left. Some of them brought relief when it was time for them to move on. Foster care and caring for others has been woven into the fabric of our family since its very beginning and I wouldn’t have wanted to be raised any other way. Our lives may have been more chaotic than others, but our lives were normal and have been well lived.

Without foster care I would not have 6 of my precious siblings. I would not have the diversity in cultures and lifestyles and opinions in my family that I have now. Without foster care my life might have been more like what others would consider normal, but without foster care, it would have been less.

Rachel Eubank is a guest on this week’s Positive Adoption Podcast. Watch for it tomorrow!

Check out her website here.

He Will Make Straight your Path

Welcome guest blogger,  Suzanne Meledeo, joining me from Surpassing Greatness. I have never met Suzanne in person, but I feel as if I know her from reading her blog posts and all the articles she share on her facebook page. Suzanne is a homeschooling mom and an adoption advocate. A kindred spirit.  Read her bio after her amazing post!

 

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How many times have you been surprise by God’s plan for your life?Have you ever been shocked by His plan?

Have you ever thought, seriously, Lord, surely you don’t mean me?

Wait, you want me to do what?That’s not my plan, God.Are you sure?

____________________________

“ Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves,

for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.’”

(Joshua 3:5, NIV)

The roaring waters of the Jordan River stood between the Israelites and their promised land.Did God really want them to step into those cold waters in flood season, carrying their heavy yet precious Ark of the Covenant? Did they trust that He would do what He said He would do and part the waters the moment their feet were engulfed? Would they step out in faith as they considered all the past promises God had fulfilled?

Do we trust God when He asks us to step out into unknown turbulent waters? Will we follow His call no matter the cost, trusting in His promises and plan over our own?

As I look back over my life, even as a child, I can see the fingerprints of God preparing my heart to accept His call to adopt. After a five year struggle through infertility, His gentle whisper became a bullhorn. My husband and I had to come to a place where we were ready to acknowledge that our dream of curly red headed children was not God’s. Remembering the promises of our Father and trusting His plan over ours, we were ready to take that first step in those raging waters of uncertainty.

We were excited to start the adoption process, but I realize now we had not completely let go of our own preconceived notions and ideas about how it would turn out. We had put our toes into the water when God wanted us to jump in with both feet firmly planted in Him. After several months of paperwork and road blocks in our initial plan to adopt a baby from Taiwan, our caseworker mentioned that prospective parents were starting to consider children from China designated as having “Special Needs”. Frankly, it sounded a little scary. We looked at each, initially with fear and trepidation, and said, “we don’t think so”, but God had other plans.

He began to work in our hearts and brought people into our lives who had adopted children from China on the waiting child list and showed us that He had a completely different plan, one far more wonderful than anything we could have imagined with our finite minds. He showed us that we didn’t need be scared. We simply needed to open our eyes to see all these beautiful children, created by their Creator, perfect in His eyes, and waiting for us to adopt them! How wrong and selfish we were! We were looking at it through the eyes of the world, not the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

God gently whispered into our hearts. “I love you regardless of your imperfections. I love you so much that I sent my one and only flawless Son to die for your sins. If you were already perfect, you wouldn’t need me. All My children are beautiful, and I have some very special ones to entrust to your care.”

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Now we see these “Special Needs” children as “Special” amazing children in “Need” of or “Waiting” for their forever family. What if God had said, “Oh, I don’t want to save people with problems, only perfect people”? None of us are worthy of Him yet He loves us!

The truth of the matter is that many children on this list in China have things that can becorrected in the United States such as cleft lip/palate or limb deformities. I am not saying that this is an easy path or one that should be tread lightly, and of course, there are children on these lists with even more severe issues. But does God always call us to the easiest path? If God has called you to adopt, pray about God’s plan for your adoption and seek His will alone. Don’t focus on the fact that you want a “healthy” child but rather on the child God has for you. When you know that you are following Him and His will for your life, step out in faith, trusting in His perfect plan. Yes, there will rapids along the way, but He has promised to carry you through those times of trial and difficulty that are inevitable. He will be faithful. WE CAN TRUST HIM!!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and do not lean on your own understand.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

and He will make your paths straight.”

(Prov. 3:5-6, NIV)

Bio:

After struggling with infertility for five years, God led Suzanne and her husband Adam to His Plan A for their lives—adoption! Their daughter, Grace Lihua, came into their lives in 2011 from the Fujian Province, China. Their son, Anthony Jianyou, joined their family in January of 2013 from Shanghai, and another little girl will be joining their family in 2015 from the Hunan Province. After a career in politics, Suzanne is thankful for God’s provision in their lives that now allows her to work part time as a Pilates instructor while home schooling their children. You can follow their adoption journey and life on their blog, Surpassing Greatness.

Pay It Forward- Gina Towson

Pay it Forward



(Beautiful Gina and husband Terry)

Continuing my series on the responsibility of the church…..

I’d like to introduce you to another lovely Saint- Gina Towson.  She runs the organization Pay It Forward.  This ministry has helped hundreds of families in the area supplying them with household goods, Thanksgiving turkeys, clothing, Christmas, etc…  Her idea was birthed out of a need.  I asked her about the ministry’s origins and she said,
”I had already helped five families before I realized it.  When we went to Alabama, two hours outside of Tuscaloosa, I get a phone call that my daughter’s house had burnt down and I was looking at the back of that big yellow Penske box truck, thinking about all the donations inside if it, enough for ten families, and I thought, I have drained my town and I will never be able to help my daughter.  Long story short, I came back to Fairmont, put something out on my facebook wall and had her back up and running within just a few days…it was then I realized it wasn’t my resources, it wasn’t Fairmont’s resources, It was God’s resources and so birthed Pay It Forward.”
I met Gina years ago in Wednesday night women’s Bible study. I immediately had the sense that She cares about people in need and she is not afraid to get down in the trenches to meet those needs. She has a no nonsense, practical approach.  She sends out a plea on her facebook page and God sets people into action.  She credits Him with meeting the needs.  


 Gina reminds me of my mother.  It is not a physical resemblance, it is a spiritual and character photocopy.  She has the attributes of Christ- love, mercy, unconditional love, faithfulness, compassion just as my mother did.  Gina walks in those attributes without even thinking about it.   It’s as if she has her hand on the pulse of the community. She knows when it is weak, sick or suffering and like a nurse, she leaps into action medicating with compassion and loaves and fishes.


Gina is doing the work of the church on earth, but she is not the only one.  She is the einstein and the passion behind the ministry.  Others lend strong arms, backs and the trappings essential to provide the needs.  It’s a family ministry for the Towsons, including Terry, her husband, Katy, her granddaughter along with aunts, uncles, cousins and some church family thrown in the mix.  

Jesus said the poor would always be with us and they are.  In fact it could be anyone of us at anytime.  Each of us should Pay It Forward to ensure the ministry is there when we need it.  Those who walk in compassion will reap compassion.  

Guest Blogger- Melissa Hoskins

This post is written by friend, Melissa.  I asked her awhile back to share some news about her Romanian adventures.  God is doing such a wonderful work through her.  Her testimony is a perfect example of Romans 8:28:
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.  
God has taken the wounds and shame from an abortion (as a teen) and turned her ashes into beauty.  She ministers God’s grace and healing message to those who suffer unfathomable guilt and remorse from past abortions.  Melissa also proactively counsels pregnant women through the Pregnancy Resource Center of Marion County where she serves as Center Director.  She carries God’s message of forgiveness and healing to our sisters in Romania.  Read her inspiring account, keep her in your prayers and remember God turns ashes into beauty.  He loves you!  
Here is a summary of my trip:
Summary of my trip to Romanian May/June 2013
When I arrived in Romania, my work started immediately. We arrived in Arad with just enough time to drop off my things and eat a light dinner and make it to the local Christian radio station for a live radio show. Lucia and Mary shared about MAMI and the Pregnancy Resource Center. I shared my testimony. Praise God that He gave me clarity and a clear mind as I had not slept in about 48 hours. There were several people who called in with questions that night.
We traveled the next morning to the Pregnancy Resource Center Staff conference. I was a surprise for the ladies. They didn’t know that I was coming. They asked Lucia for the months leading up to the conference if she was bringing anyone and she said no, unless God provides. At the last minute, God did provide! All praise to Him!!! It was an amazing time with the ladies and the Lord. We spent an hour and a half every morning worshipping the Lord together, praying together, and sharing from God’s word together. It sounds like angels singing when these women are worshipping and they pray with a passion and fervor that I have rarely seen in the U.S. Listening to and sharing what the Lord has placed on their hearts was priceless. These are true women of God who love the Lord and this ministry with all of their hearts. I was blessed and honored to just be in their presence. I shared my testimony and experiences with Pregnancy Resource Centers. I also shared about the PRC of Marion County…what we do and my work there. They had a lot of questions. It was interesting to see the similarities and also the differences in our ministries. One thing I noticed is that they have a lot more freedom to share Christ and the ugly truth about abortion than we feel we do here in the US. I think one reason for that is that abortion is so prevalent (3 out of 4 pregnancies end in abortion in Romania). The ladies also shared their testimonies of how they were called to this ministry. It was amazing how God handpicked them to be a part of His amazing work!
When the conference finished we traveled back to Arad, just in time to drop off our things and go to dinner. While we were at dinner, the pastor who came to the conference to do communion with us called and asked if we would come and speak to his three churches the next day. We said yes, so he traveled an hour and a half to get us and we were off again. The next day we began at 10:00 am and we finished at the last church at midnight. Lucia (President of Mercy’s Action Mission Inc.- MAMI) shared about MAMI and my vision for Ploiesti and I shared my testimony. It was a wonderful time of ministry and fellowship.
When we arrived back in Arad, it was sort of a day of rest. We met together and discussed my vision and heart for planting a Pregnancy Center in Ploiesti. I believe that God connected me to Lucia and MAMI for a specific purpose. It is my desire to be the connections person and fundraiser, but to open the center under this ministry. They are already established and have done this many times before. They know much better than me how to open a center, so it is my desire to do everything I can to help them do that. I shared that with them and we are all praying for the Lord’s will to be done.
When we traveled to Ploiesti, we met with many people. First, we met with Becky, an American who runs an orphanage in Bucharest. This meeting was mainly Becky sharing her experiences and encouragement, wisdom and prayer. It was a wonderful time and I appreciated her wisdom very much.
We then met with the Hope In Action Romanian team leaders, Marius and Roxana. It was a wonderful reunion for us. Lucia and I shared our hearts and vision for the Center in Ploiesti and they will pray and support us in any way they can. They are willing to set up meetings with others to talk about this opportunity when I come back.
We met with Gabi, the head nurse at the hospital in Campina, which was very informative. She said that they have about 10 abortions a day at her hospital. She is willing to refer women to the Center who are post abortive or in crisis pregnancies. Maybe even have a satellite center that the staff would travel to meet with clients.
We also met with the pastor of Nehemiah Church in Campina and his family. They are very supportive of this vision. They would like to take the training when we schedule it as they counsel and they want to be prepared when dealing with these situations.
We spoke on Sunday morning at SOS Ploiesti church. I shared my testimony and Lucia shared about MAMI and the vision. We were able to pray with several women. There were 7 women who are interested in the ministry and training. This is a message I received from one of the women I prayed with:
“The truth is that until this day that I first got to confess my sin for the first time, I thought that I have to pay for my sin the rest of my life, only with pain and suffering. I wasn’t able to be happy about anything good that happened in my life anymore. I thought that is the correct way to pay for my sin- through pain and suffering for that aborted child….he was a boy. After my daughter was born, I was afraid of everything. If she had a cold, or if anything bad was happening to her, I thought that God wants me to pay for my sin, through my daughter’s suffering. Again, I thought that I don’t deserve anything good in my life. I started to withdraw from everything and everybody. I never thought that I’m ever going to be able to talk about this with anybody. But then I confessed to Melissa and then again to my pastor and he told me that God is a God who forgives and that He is a faithful God who forgives and He is a faithful God and that He wants to set me free and wants to heal me. Today, when Melissa hugged me, I felt like I have known her my whole life. I look forward to seeing her again in September.”
This same lady emailed us and said that her husband was also touched by my story and he wants her to start looking for a location for the center in Ploiesti.
The Pastor at SOS is very supportive and recorded my testimony and aired it on the radio on Friday and Sunday. He has also offered to do radio spots for us when we get to that point to get the word out.
Sunday night we spoke at the First Baptist Church in Ploiesti. There were 4 women who want to be involved. The pastor’s wife is an inspector for the public schools and she said she has many connections and if we ever want to speak in the schools, she will help us. The pastor was also very supportive.
Praise God we went from step one to step four of opening a center in one day! The next steps are to raise the $10,000 we need to fund opening the center and find a location, then we hold the training and open. Please pray for these next steps.
The three older kids and I will return to Romania in September for the Hope In Action Missions trip. Please pray for wisdom for me to know if and how to use this trip to work on this opportunity as well.
I continue to pray for favor and open doors and the Lord has been faithful! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thank you so much for your prayers and support
Contact me @:  melissa.hoskins@rocketmail.com

Fresh Air! Guest Bloggers- Bob and Rachel Eubank

Re-Post and Reminder:  It’s not too late to sponsor a Fresh Air child!
Today, we have a guest post from Bob and Rachel Eubank, about a program they are involved in called the Fresh Air Fund. Be sure and also check out their page on Facebook! The link is at the end of this post:

The ice and snow of winter are beginning to melt away and the promise of spring is peeking up through the grass.  The warm air whispers a promise that summer is on its way.  Days of watching our children run barefoot through the sprinklers and nights of catching fireflies in mason jars are just around the corner.  Children become alive with freedom and fun in the summer sun.  The world is their playground and they are eager to learn more about it through new experiences and treasured traditions.

Here in West Virginia we are blessed with beautiful natural surroundings, but imagine for just a minute that the only playground that was available to your children was made of concrete.  Concrete that becomes so hot in the summer sun that it needs to be sprayed with water just so the children don’t burn themselves while they are playing.  Imagine having a seven year old son who has never run through the grass barefoot or watched the stars come out at night.

Every year children from New York City only dream of experiencing the kinds of summers that we take for granted.  They want the chance to go to the beach with a family, to see a drive in movie, to catch a fish in a lake, or to just play in the backyard.  These children spend their summers in the apartments or on the city streets.  While our children breathe fresh air and play through their summers, many New York City children are still waiting for their chance.

The Fresh Air Fund is an organization that is trying to change the lives of thousands of New York City children each year.  This is an organization that my husband and I believe in with all of our hearts.  Their one goal is to take children out of the city and place them in a country or small town setting for the chance to experience the kinds of summers that we have access to each year.  They match children with host families that are willing to open their homes and their hearts for two weeks during the summer season.

My husband and I are looking for families who are ready to change a child’s life forever.  There is no financial obligation.  These children need love, time, and a bed to sleep in while they are visiting.  Here in North Central West Virginia, the children will be arriving July 10th-24th.  Hosting a Fresh Air child just means putting another hotdog on the grill, and slathering another child with sunscreen before heading out to the beach.  Just a little extra effort during that two week stay will give a child an experience they will remember the rest of their lives!

Our family has been hosting a child through the Fresh Air Fund for the last nine years.  Our Fresh Air son’s name is Matthew Dambreville and he is the only child we have ever hosted.  He was six the first summer he came to visit.  Everything was new to him and his greatest goal was to see a black and white cow in person.  This summer his is going to be fourteen and in high school!  The Fresh Air fund has transformed our family…he gained a new perspective on life and we gained a son.  Summer would not be the same without Matthew here with us.

As a host parent, when you are able to take a city child out of his or her element and give them a new outlook on life, you see your world with fresh eyes.  Most hosts say that they go into the program expecting to change a child’s life and end up having their lives changed forever.

If you would consider hosting a child or if you would like more information about this amazing program, please go to http://www.freshair.org or you can call us at 304-363-9665, we never get tired of talking about Fresh Air!

Bob and Rachel Eubank

Fresh Air Fund of North Central WV on Facebook
Trip dates for this year:
July 2-10 July 2-16 July 30-August 6