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What Residential Means to Us.

We don’t talk about it much, residential. I often wonder how we got here. Sometimes I wondered if we “failed” our sweet daughter( I know we didn’t ). I remember meeting her for the first time at our local Panera. Her nervous reluctant smile and pages of questions for us. I felt that God placed us together, and still do. She was/is so inquisitive, honest and scared. That was the beginning of our Journey.
 

I know that the brokenness of her past is overwhelming and at times debilitating. The silent struggle that she has within herself, this war that is raging inside of her is overwhelming. The system is broken, the people who are meant to protect you have hurt you. And then you have the family that says I love you no matter what but I do not like your behavior.- but Her mind can not grasp it… it’s more like, yikes not safe- these people probably lying, just wanna get way. This reactive attachment is so real.

So this whole raising a child from trauma, it’s one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done. But I don’t want to be silent about what residential means to our family. Other families are with me, I want to stop isolating and start educating. I have learned more in three months about service than I ever dreamed- more than I ever wanted too.

Like did you know, that you can get case management from your local  Community service board.

If your child has Medicaid that they are eligible for the therapeutic day treatment program in your school district.

For us retrospectively speaking , Intensive in-home therapy should probably have been done at the start of our adoption, to help facilitate an attachment assessment. It would have also be helpful for our  family to learn each of our own attachment mechanisms and how to best attached to their child. 

….If I am honest, I remember reading post, of local families  stating their child was either coming home from residential treatment, or  they were on their way to residential treatment. I looked at my husband and said  “well at least that is not us”. Yet here we are. 
I still have no idea how to navigate this new world of brokenness and of loss. We are losing a child that wants nothing to do with us. We are over four years into this adoption, And I surely thought if something were to happen it would’ve happened sooner. Our kids cry for her, and they still feel the pain of the trauma that she inflicted on us. 
To be honest I think we were very naïve about all of it, and we believed if we just LOVED her enough she would know it.  But this  same cycle of what happened over and over again. Trauma debilitating trauma triggered daily, she would be in fight or flight constantly for months fighting and flighting over and over and over. 

Our biological children had no idea what to do; we had no idea what to do, friends had no idea how to help us but here we are. Walking this road, that many don’t speak about. I always said my daughter would NEVER go to a residential treatment facility. If she could just understand how much we LOVE her. But that was unrealistic for me to ask, how can a child know what love is when they have been moved from home to home. How can a child know what love is when they’ve had two failed adoptions prior to us. How can a child know what love is when they are labeled by their behavior and not by their potential. How can a child know what love is when the people who were meant to protect them failed them every single time.
Her story is her own, but there’s hundreds of other stories just like hers. There is hurt and pain with inside these sweet precious kids.

I pray with all of me that she would regain insight – but like many of her peers she suffers from mental illness and personality disorders that have been debilitating recently.

How I wish I could make her feel safe.

That’s the hardest part of all of this-

I can’t make her better. She has to want it to.  

Oh how we love her. 
Her brothers and sisters miss her so much.
So what do we do now- we show up, we keep loving her. She expects us to move on. That’s what all the others families have done. She is use to restating – we are trying to show her you can go through pain with the same family- we all need healing. With her being older she has more of a say in her disposition, but we continue to tell her we love her no matter what. In the good the bag and the ugly. 
Oh- we regret NOTHING and would do it again.

Launch of Foster Love Cville

Oh how my life has changed!  Sitting in church in late January or early February, Pastor Pete at City Church Charlottesville, called us to serve our community, even if it meant stepping out of our comfort zone.  That was when I felt a “Jesus Jab.”  You know that feeling, when something from scripture or a sermon remind you that you could be doing more than you are currently for others.  Call it conscience perhaps.  Whatever the name, I felt it.  Something moved in me, and it gave me the confidence to approach Pastor Pete in the parking lot after church one Sunday. I had already been working on this very website for Foster Love Ministry, so the idea had been planted for awhile.  The plan was simple, convince Pastor Pete to let me hold a bag drive to further support our local foster children and perhaps ease the burden of the hard working churches already involved in this project.

Pastor Pete loved the idea.  After a few email exchanges, we met to discuss the particulars with the pastoral team.  I came to realize that Pastor Pete has lofty goals.  It changed from a bag drive to a full blown ministry before I even knew what hit me.  Best of all, I was in charge! EEK!  I left that meeting wondering what just happened.  Oh boy.

Fast forward to March.  The date was set!  I was to present on 3/19.  I enlisted all the help I could and prepared a presentation.  I worked very hard on preparing bag tags and an easy way to pick them up.  This meant crafting.  I have no complaints about that!  I worked all day to finish the presentation board so that people would take me seriously.  What a day.  Finally, that evening, I had a few minutes to think of what to say.  I had a feeling Pastor Pete would ask me what I did and explain.  He knew that my cohorts and I are pediatric intensive care nurses.  Absolutely everyone asks how we do it.  I knew I was going to have to explain that onstage, I needed to formulate a good response.  Some of the time, I have no idea how I do it!

Sunday morning came and time was rapidly counting down before I had to go on stage.  Talk about anxiety!  My husband said he never saw me so nervous!  It has been a very long time! I don’t think I heard a single thing Pastor Pete said, as I waited to hear the cue for me to go onstage.  As I made my way on stage, I had two missions: 1.  Don’t faint.  2.  Don’t trip – the most difficult of all challenges for a clumsy person.

By the end of it, I have no clue what I said.  I heard it was good though!  People came to my table in the lobby not long after I finished speaking.  The bag tags were flying off the shelf!  It felt like Bodo’s Bagels on a Sunday morning.  I watched in awe as the last tag was pulled off the board.  I grossly underestimated the size of the hearts of the people at City Church.  I can’t believe how overwhelmingly positive the mission was received.  I had so many other employees of the UVA health system approach me to tell me how wonderful it was that we were taking this on.  My favorite was the mom of a former PICU patient thanking us and vowing to get involved.  I even met her little daughter, that my unit was responsible for saving.  I had moms wanting to donate clothing and even one family approach who was interested in foster care.  A current foster parent was interested in helping me identify community needs to improve the outlook of our local foster children.

I am in complete awe over yesterday.  If anything, it was an affirmation that what I am doing is worth it.  All the hard work in the next few weeks is appreciated and meaningful.  I was told by the founder of the parent ministry, that her one time foster daughter, now adopted, loved her bag so much that she slept with it and took it everywhere with her.  That really pulled at my heart strings.  If we had the opportunity to help one child feel a little love, all of this is worth it.  Money is no obstacle.

Please consider getting involved.  Email fosterlovecville@gmail.com or use the contact form found on this website.  Shopping lists are available online if you would like to buy your own bag.

Before service
After Service

Thank you for reading this!

Deanna Pototschnik

Kids Helping Kids :)

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Imagine you are 12 and about to celebrate your birthday. You are thinking about planning your party;  who you will invite, the cake, the decorations and a fun time to hang with friends.   Then you find out kids who enter foster care commonly are given a trash bag.  Instead of caring about yourself you think, I want to help these kids.  I go to school with theses kids. This is exactly what 12 year old girl Julia from Virginia did.  She knew that children are worth more than trash bags and wanted to show them they are loved.  So with the help of her mom and family she set out to do a Journey Bag drive.  With a goal in mind she quickly surpassed and made 28 bags to local children entering the foster care system.  Julie you are a world changer!  THANK YOU and HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

It Takes a Village

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2016 was a tumultuous year.  I got married, moved across the country, started a new job, and my new husband started Graduate school.  My life changed from watching sea turtles gracefully drift past me on the beach to watching painted turtles (I’m told their painted turtles by my husband-childhood turtle expert) dive off rocks at a lake behind my house.  I felt like the painted turtles diving into the depths.  I needed to figure out who I was all over again.  One day at work, I had a conversation with a coworker who happened to mention that she ran a charity that supported foster children.  I was intrigued! My husband and I had participated in a donation collection helping a local school to fill backpacks for the new year and her charity sounded a little like that.  It’s simple, buy things off a list, and brighten a child’s outlook.  It couldn’t get easier.  I don’t remember how exactly it came up, but my guess is she was reaching for a miracle and happened to ask if I knew anything about websites.  Here’s the creepy part.  Not only did I know about wordpress, I wrote a blog a few years back on this very website. (insert chicken skin).  I had heard a sermon around that time period reminding us that God speaks, it’s up to us to listen.  Luke says it best, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28.  I paid attention that day.  God knew I needed to be apart of something and he basically tossed it in my lap.

Fast forward a couple of months.  Same coworker, different conversation.  Out of the blue, she asks me if my husband and I could foster a little girl in our same hospital. The little girl needed a bone marrow transplant.  Without it, she would die.  The doctors wouldn’t perform the procedure without a stable home of how medically intensive the procedure is. I have taken care of many bone marrow transplant patients, and I know that is no small feat!  Imagine the conversation I had with my husband.  That is a very difficult thing to ponder.  How can we sentence this child to death by not helping?  This weighed heavy on me for a good week.  My husband and I were already busy, so it would be a solo mission on my end.  I didn’t see how I could do that and give the best for this little girl!

A week before Christmas, I walked into work- same coworker was there.  This time she tells me of a miracle!  One of our coworkers, Kristen, had decided to foster the little girl!  I almost cried on the spot!  What an amazing gift Kristen was giving her!  All around me people were donating money out of their pockets to ease the transition for Kristen to bring her home from the hospital. I heard a doctor on the phone with his wife giving sizes for clothes  and other nurses who are mom’s offering hand-me-downs from their children.  If there ever an example needed of “it taking a village,” we had it. I remember talking to Kristen about it and barely being able to contain my emotion.  She seemed less worried about fostering, more worried that it was right before Christmas and she didn’t have any gifts for the little girl.  Kristen had already adopted a boy and had gifts piled under the tree for him.  It would hardly be fair for the little girl to watch him open his gifts and her not have any!  Kristen has a heart of gold.  THAT was her worry!?!  She is one tough momma!

Kristen and I worked together on Christmas Day and she told me about how their Christmas as new, bigger family went.  The little foster child didn’t  seem to understand that she had more presents.  She was fine with the first one.  She had to be encouraged to keep unwrapping more!  How much do we take for granted in our lives? How many times are you disappointed when your finished unwrapping?  I’m sure she was used to not getting much, or anything at all.

If by the end of this, you got chicken skin, maybe God was talking to you as well. Perhaps you know a foster mom who struggles to get by, but always seems to have a smile on her face. Lift her up! See if she needs help! Buy her some coffee-she probably needs it!  Perhaps you do a lot of shopping, but what you buy doesn’t really give you joy.  If you feel like you aren’t doing enough, reach out to Foster Love Ministry.  We have needs for all age groups of Journey Bags.  $80 is plenty for a good bag.  Make it a group effort if you want!  We also have an amazon wish list if that is more your style.  What doesn’t get donated, comes out of Jen’s pocket (My coworker listed above).  Gift cards are another option.  If you’re really feeling called, there are agreat number of children that need fostered and adopted.  Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed day!

Deanna Pototschnik