Graduation Day and blended families!

Anna Beth just graduated high school and it was an amazing event. We had our family and her birth family together to share in this momentous occasion in her life. Her birthmother, Christy, came with her husband and their 3 children. They drove 12 hours from Tennessee. Christy’s sister, Lynn, drove from Virginia and stayed with us. Our family came from Virginia and South Florida. Anna Beth’s birth father’s family lives in town. Anna Beth was given 2 tickets for the actual room where the ceremony would be held. Of course, David and I got the honor of those tickets. Somehow, she found 2 more tickets, and it was surreal to sit in her graduation ceremony beside her birth mother and birth father.

I can already see when she gets married, we will all play a significant role in her ceremony.

The rest of the family sat in overflow rooms and watched on tv. (I think they saw better than we did at certain points.)

Then, the next evening we met at a friend’s home and had pictues taken. I was overwhelmed with emotion of having all the families represented together in one place. I wll post the pictures as soon as I can. Incredible the feelings I had over this event!

Lastly, on Saturday, we had a party where family and friends came by to congratulate the grad and to bring presents!

God is soooooooo good to us!

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Add a comment May 24, 2009

So many emotions!

The next day came and I headed over to speak with Christy and her mom. I wanted to reassure them we would do all we could to raise this baby in a way that would make them proud. When I arrived at their home, I took a deep breath and knocked on the door. Christy invited me in and I sat at their kitchen table and we talked. She realized she could not raise this baby and the birth father and his family couldn’t raise her either. Knowing David and me for several years, gave Christy and her mom the assurance the baby would be raised in a Christian home with loads of love.

To Christy’s surprise, I told her David and I wanted to have contact with Christy through the years. We would send pictures and let her see her daughter from “afar”. If there was a T ball game, I would be happy to give her the schedule for her to come and watch. When prom came around, we would make sure to get a set of pictures for her. We did not want her to miss parts of her daughter’s growing up and would do all we could to facilitate a “limited” involvement. I knew we would figure it out as we went.

She and her mom were thrilled. They did not expect us to open our arms to them in this way. I also sensed relief and joy.

Could this be happening? It seems I’ve pinched myself over and over! Please, Lord, don’t let her change her mind….

3 comments November 15, 2008
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Blog Tour Margaret Iuculano

A special opening message from Margaret Iuculano:

 

I want to thank our Blog Host for taking the time to read My God Box a memoir about an abusive childhood but more importantly on how a mustard seed of faith in God turned around the life of a child.  I feel blessed that you are willing to share the book on the Blog Tour Name.  You are helping to create awareness about a topic that desperately needs to be addressed and has reached epidemic proportions – 500,000 children in the Foster Care System within the US.

 

Our country is in a crisis with an overloaded Foster Care System and children falling through the cracks daily and being put into homes to provide safety only to be left neglected again.  How can we expect these children to become productive adults growing up in this environment?  How can we teach these children how to have faith in God and then themselves to correct the wrongs being committed in their lives?  How can we help Foster Parents to recognize the difference they can make in a life of a child and the importance of their role?  And most importantly, how can we teach to break the Cycle of Abuse so we can shrink the numbers of children going into foster care in the future?

 

There’s a truth I came to realize that changed my life and can change the lives of others.  Have Faith in God – put your troubles into his hands and allow him to use you for the purpose you were born for.  Once I started to follow this truth in my life I came out of despair to complete happiness and peace.  I recognized my ability to help others and the importance of viewing each other as Gods children, people who possess a lot of value and have a mission just like I do for God. 

 

When I began to see that God had a mission for my life, I started to embrace my challenges and learn from them without looking back.  I was able to rid myself of the victim mentality and succeed where I was told I never would. 

 

My prayer is that you see the message in My God Box and that it will inspire you to learn to overcome a traumatic experience and more importantly help someone else.  I pray that you will agree that all it takes is a mustard seed of faith to realize your God Given potential.

 

God Bless You,
Margaret Iuculano

What compelled you to write My God Box?

 

 I feel I was blessed to have found God amid all the pain and misery I endured during my growing years.  However, I also feel it’s time to give thanks and give back. I struggled for over two years with doubts and mixed feelings about setting my life in print, but whenever I took a step back, I was energized and encouraged by the awe-inspiring certainty that God wanted me to tell my story—for self-healing, but more importantly to open the minds and hearts of other suffering individuals to the mercy and goodness of God. God is hope. Without God there is no hope. Without hope there is no life.  

 

Who is your target audience?

 

My God Box is addressed to anyone struggling to overcome the traumas and challenges of a dysfunctional or broken life. It is also for anyone associated with someone living in pain and misery. Furthermore, it is for anyone who wants to live a serene life in harmony with the wishes of their Creator. In other words it is for everyone who seeks happiness and fulfillment for themselves and/or others.

 

 What are some of the stark realities surrounding Foster Care Programs?

 

The truth is that children are not ‘OK’ just because they have been removed from an abusive home and entrusted to a foster family. Although there are kind, nurturing people enrolled as foster parents, on the flip side there are individuals interested only in the monetary aspects of the program; individuals often just as, if not more dysfunctional, emotionally unstable and abusive than the child’s biological parents. This is one of the reasons why I wrote My God Box—to bring awareness to the plight of foster children—and to hopefully fix the shattered parts of a system in desperate need of repair.

 

What are your long range goals?

 

My goal is to promote awareness of childhood abuse by using My God Box as a vehicle to become an advocate for children’s rights. I want to inform and encourage others to join with me to make a difference in the life of an innocent vulnerable child who needs to be protected and defended from society’s evils.  I am planning speaking engagements/seminars which will help motivate people to start thinking about making changes in their lives and in the lives of others.

 

Tell us a little more about yourself.

 

I am a wife, mother, entrepreneur and children’s rights activist with an unwavering faith in God that has led, leads and will undoubtedly lead me to the successful outcome of all my projects.

 

How many kids in the U.S. are in foster care?

 

On any given day the statistics show over 500,000 children in the US in the foster care system.  The number has reached an epidemic level which has burdened a system not built or equipped to handle the issues facing these children.

 

How long do they stay in foster care (on average)?

 

2.5 years is the average across the US – the federal government has asked the individual states to try and reach a permanency solution for these children within 9 months but unfortunately the system is not equipped to meet this goal.

 

Do they live with the same foster parents the entire time?

 

If they are lucky!  I personally experienced over 15 different living environments and see the same movement between homes and shelters happening today.

 

You grew up in foster care – what was your experience like?

 

My experience was most of the foster parents were not equipped to handle a troubled child who needed help.  I was in poverty struck homes as well as abusive homes within the foster care system and these are the homes I advocate against.  Children removed from their abusive home environments should not be put into a system that is not providing them a better environment than the home they were removed from.

 

There are many wonderful foster parents who want to help children.  But there are people who take in foster kids for the money – how can that be changed?

 

Not all but too many foster parents see their role as a job not wanting to get too attached to the child as it is a temporary situation thus making the child feel like a 2nd class citizen.  The daily stipend a foster parent receives is not a lot of money but if you take in a few children it can be more than a welfare check.

 

Do you think there’s enough training for foster parents?

 

There is not an easy answer to this problem with continual budget cuts within the foster care system but there really can’t ever be enough training to learn how to cope with a child who needs help.  You can become a foster parent in many states with only a few days of training and a criminal background check.  Foster parents need so much more to make them successful.

 

 

 

My God Box

My God Box

Thank you for allowing me to share my book and God’s mission for my life with you.  If you would like to learn more about me and my mission please visit –

www.margaretlano.com and www.angelsforfosterkids.org and know that 100% of the book proceeds goes to Angles for Foster Children. Please feel free to contact me at anytime. 

 

 

 

 

3 comments October 4, 2008

Seeking God

David’s response was “But we know her. What if she shows up at our door years down the road and wants to take the baby back?”

I understood his concern. There had recently been news reports of children given up for adoption and someone from the birth family entering the picture to take the baby back.

I told him I’d just like us to pray about it and see what the Lord wanted us to do.

That evening we went up to a prayer chapel at our church. As we prayed and sought the Lord on this matter we both heard: “Proceed”.

The next day I headed to Christy’s mom’s home to talk about the plans for the growing baby inside Christy’s womb.

Would this really happen? In 5 months would a baby girl come into our home as our daughter? My emotions were raw. The excitement was real. The questions were numerous!

Add a comment September 19, 2008
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An unexpected phone call

It was a normal Saturday in November. David and I were watching football when the phone rang. He answered and said, “It’s Christy. She wants to talk to you.”

After I said hello, she asked me a question that changed my life. “Sandra, would you and David like to adopt my baby?”

Wow! I had just finished reading a book by Ann Kiemel Anderson about her open adoptions. So, I told her to let me speak with David and wondered if I could come and visit with Christy and her mom the next afternoon.

We set a time and I hung up the phone. I couldn’t wait to get back into the TV room to tell David the news!

Have you ever gotten some unexpected, yet very welcome news? A “kiss” from God?

Tell me about it!

Add a comment September 9, 2008

Another disappointment…

David and I were thrilled with the news of a second pregnancy! This time would be different. This time I would carry to term. This time I would hold my baby and send pictures to friends!

The dreams were short-lived. Eight weeks into my pregnancy, the miscarriage began. I cried. I got angry. I didn’t know what to do with the weight of the grief. Could this be happening to me? What was wrong with me? Couldn’t God fix my body? The pain was real and deep.

David spoke some profound words to me as I cried out to God in anger and pain. He said, “Sandra, where else can you turn? You’ve got to hang onto God.” He was right. My anger at God melted as I let David and God comfort me. I had a new resolve to love God deeply and to figure out what He was trying to say to us in the midst of our tragedy.

How about you? Have you ever experienced disappointment and anger that seemed so big it was hard to know where to turn? What did you do? What counsel did you get?

I love this video by Natalie Grant: Held

 

Add a comment August 29, 2008

Divine Connections

I met a girl named Christy when she was in junior high. She had come to a discipleship weekend where I was one of the leaders. She and I spent some time together.

Several years later, when she was 16 and in high school, Christy became pregnant. In fact, she became pregnant the same month I became pregnant with our first child. I miscarried that child. Christy came into the pregnancy center where I was the Director. We spoke about her pregnancy. She had many questions about raising a baby. I gave her a list of needed items to have on hand when the baby arrived.

Before she left the center, I said something like this to her: “Christy, you need to get on your knees and find out who this baby is for…you or a family who can’t have children. Pray with your mom and see what the Lord says.” The thought this might be my baby never crossed my mind. I had only had one miscarriage and was confident I would get pregnant again soon.

At church the next Sunday, I ran into Christy’s uncle who told me Christy would be keeping her baby. I was happy for her.

Shortly after that Sunday, I had a second positive pregnancy test.

What is your story? Comment and let me know.

Add a comment August 19, 2008

Planning for a child

David and I said our wedding vows and planned on having a family…the regular way. However, God had different plans.  Soon after our wedding day, we began trying to have a child. Many months went by and finally, a positive pregnancy test! We were thrilled! We called family and friends and celebrated!

Parents…we were going to be parents. Unexpectedly, I had a miscarriage. The devastation! We were so disappointed. But our doctor reassured us it was a “fluke”. Wait a few months and try again.

We waited and tried and had another positive pregnancy test. Whoo hoo! This time, things would be different. This time, I would carry to term. But, like the last pregnancy, another miscarriage. I had a flood of emotions. I cried out to God. “Don’t You want me to be a mom? Do You trust me to raise children? Am I not good enough?” I was angry at my body for not cooperating with a pregnancy….

How about you? Have you experienced miscarriages and disappointment. Dreams put on hold? Let me know.

I’ll continue writing about the journey another day!

Sandra Stanford  www.sandrastanford.com

3 comments August 16, 2008

Parenting Adopted Children

Hi! It’s Sandra Stanford, mom of an adopted child. I am currently co-writing a book with Kathy Firkins about parenting adopted children. I will be posting blogs about our family and the tools David and I

My daughter and me!

My daughter and me!

 have used in parenting our daughter. It’s going to be fun, informative and interactive! Invite your friends and join me on this journey.

2 comments August 15, 2008
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