Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Friday, May 22, 2009

Foster Family Program Pioneers!

Ohhh it sounds so glamorous and special to say we are "pioneering" something here. Which we are. But don't be fooled! Really it's just lots of hard work. Plus delays, set backs, research, meetings, constant educating of government personnel, and…patience in abundance!

Ever since the founding of Casa de Amor in 2002, I've had the dream of partnering with Christian families to provide a better model of care for the many children-in-need in this area. But every time we brought up this grand idea with our authorities here, they laughed at us. We even opened CDA III after one of those occasions, just making it an official home although the model is more like a foster family.

But we persisted. In March, we were going through a hard time with our oldest boy, 10 years old. Maybe the move of CDA II at the end of January shook him up, maybe the remembrance of seeing and experiencing many things he shouldn’t have when younger. Wanting to protect the other children and yet not give up on him, finding a Christian family to take him in at least a year or even long term seemed the best solution.

Amazingly, in talking this over with child welfare services, they gave us the green light to proceed in finding a foster family for C! Long story short, with LOTS of prayer, fasting, and encouragement from the staff, C. is doing much better and we feel he can continue at the home with his sisters for now.

But we took off and ran with the first positive word we’ve heard in 5 years that YES we could delegate our children to families!

With adoptions taking longer than ever and more babies (many with special needs) entering the system daily, it just makes sense. Besides that, it’s drastically less expensive and less administratively time consuming for the foster family model. I realize that to expand it much, we’ll need special staff to just supervise the foster families, but we’re talking maybe one or two people…whereas we have 20 staff amongst the three homes currently.

It’s been a very invigorating couple of months as we have met multiple times with Infante, the one group in Bolivia authorized to work in foster care, child protection services, and of course together as an administrative team to study the whole issue from inside and out. We’ve even helped put on a course for government officials and other homes interested in the model, to educate and inform them of what the law says in regards to foster families and how the model works...and benefits the kids. I've loved all of it, learning all the nitty gritty details! It's been incredibly interesting.

In April, we also interviewed and evaluated the first family that wants to join our program, to be with a baby of ours they’ve fallen in love with. Honestly, I knew it would be a long, rocky road, and tried to prepare them for that, I didn't expect it to unfold this way. Whereas this is my life, and day in and day out for 5 years I have dealt with the unending bureaucracy and inefficiency as we push through dozens of cases of kids at a time, the first foster family is not used to this and is finding it very hard to understand. I can see from their point of view, in just wanting the best for the baby, and yet I’m all too familiar with the many roadblocks at every turn these days (in a country increasingly heading away from adoptions) and it’s very draining to constantly try to reconcile the two.

Currently, we’ve basically been told that as a children's home, there is no precedent for this in Bolivia and thus we need to have a special agreement with child welfare services to allow one of our children to live out from under our roof—just to make sure everyone’s back is covered. This was disappointing news since the law clearly states that foster families are allowed AND we are being trained by the one group here authorized to work this way.

It could take the rest of the year to get this agreement pushed through various government offices. We are looking into other options so that at least one baby can be in a better environment. I’ve been waiting for this “one” to go through so that we could begin sharing the vision in local churches, but all the set backs have made it difficult.

Still, we are excited about the potential of this program and just need patience and wisdom as we work through the details. We are committed to laying a strong foundation for the future!

Pray, pray, pray! This will be an awesome victory for providing the best care possible to children in need in Bolivia.

No comments: