Review of ‘Man Shoes, The Journey to Becoming a Better Man, Husband & Father’

Even though I normally only review books for children or young adults, I jumped at the chance to read and review Tom Watson’s new book, ‘Man Shoes, The Journey to Becoming a Better Man, Husband and Father’.  As a foster parent myself, I love to read inspiring true stories of former foster children who have beat the odds and went on to break the cycle of abuse and neglect.

As Tom Watson describes in his book, he definitely had a rough start to life.  By the time he was five years old, he had already been in 13 different foster homes and suffered severe neglect and abuse, both at the hands of his biological family and from some of the foster homes that were supposed to be helping him.  Mercifully, at the age of five, Tom finally found a real home, one that would eventually adopt him.  The Watson family showed Tom all of the love, acceptance, kindness and support that he had always lacked.

Of course, no child changes overnight, so over the remainder of his childhood, Tom struggled with many of the same issues many other children with traumatic backgrounds endure.  Even with the love and support of a stable home, it wasn’t until many years later that Tom Watson started to really change from the inside.  With the help of his wife and later his own children, Tom finally grew into the person that he was always meant to be, a great man, husband and father.

Of course, no life journey is without its tragedies and failures, but overall this story is an inspiring, beautiful story about healing and the search for a better way of life.  This book touched my heart in a way that is rarely achieved, and gave me hope that the children I am sharing my life with will have the opportunity to grow into the kind of adults I know they could be.  Tom Watson is a great example of what loving foster and adoptive parents hope to do for the life of a hurting child.

I would definitely recommend this book to any parent or spouse, regardless of whether they come from a background like Tom’s.  I truly believe that anyone could find encouragement and wisdom within the pages of this great memoir.

To find out more about Tom Watson and ‘Man Shoes’, please visit the book’s website, www.manshoes.net.  You can also visit the ‘Man Shoes’ Facebook fan page.

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“Good Enough: A Shay James Mystery” Review

As a foster parent, I know it can be hard to find realistic stories featuring foster kids.  Most stories either paint foster kids as juvenile delinquents or as pitiful little angels with a Pollyanna complex.  I was impressed and refreshed to find a young adult novel which actually contains a realistic, but lovable young heroine in foster care.

The book, “Good Enough: A Shay James Mystery”, which was written by Brenda McCreight, not only contains an interesting mystery for young sleuths, but it also tells a story that many children share, a history of neglect and abuse.  Like many real-life foster children, Shay James spent much of her life with parents who put their addictions before their children.  She learned early to fend for herself and to expect her world to change at a moment’s notice.

Just when Shay finally finds some stability, her happiness is once again put at risk by the illegal actions of others.  Shay is happy to have found a foster home where she is comfortable, but what truly excites her is the nearby stable where she is able to ride and take care of horses.  However, Shay’s world is rocked once again when a crime occurs at the stable.  Unless the culprit is found, Shay and her friends are told that they can’t return to the stable.  Even worse, the stable owner is now threatening to sell the horses and the stable!  Determined to save the horses, Shay and her friends decide to investigate on their own.

Although Shay makes some questionable decisions in the book and finds herself in serious danger, she displays many fine qualities such as resourcefulness, loyalty, friendship, compassion and maturity.  By the time the story ends, Shay James has become a wiser teenager who has finally found what she was looking for all along…a place to truly belong.

Although any preteen or teenager would likely find the story appealing, I would especially like to recommend this book to any foster or adoptive children out there.  Undoubtedly, they will find that they relate to Shay James in many ways, and perhaps her story will make them feel less alone.  Any child who has experienced neglect or abuse should definitely give this book a try as well.

If you would like to buy this book for a child you care about, you can purchase a copy of the eBook from Smashwords or Amazon.com for only $1.99.

Interview with Jennifer, foster and adoptive mother

For my second personal interview, I have chosen Jennifer, a devoted  mom who has fostered over 40 children in the past six years, and ended  up adopting 5 of those kids.  Though she has been through a lot,  Jennifer keeps a positive outlook and has been able to help many kids by  offering her home and heart to them.

Q: How did you become involved with adoption/foster care?

A: I had always been interested in these children that needed help. A  couple from church fostered and adopted and I always looked up to them. As an  adult, all I wanted was to be a mom. When I found out I would never have  biological children I knew it was just meant for us to help these kids. We  called our local DCS and began classes almost immediately…

Continue reading on Examiner.com Personal Interview #2 with Jennifer, a foster and adoptive mother from Indiana – Dayton Adoptive Families | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/personal-interview-2-with-jennifer-a-foster-and-adoptive-mother-from-indiana#ixzz1NK0xel4Z

Right about now wishing we could change judges for our foster son…

It may not be the same everywhere, since counties and states often vary  widely in their children’s services laws, but in many counties here in Ohio,  when a judge is picked for a case, you are pretty much stuck with them.   Nobody, including the family, foster family, caseworkers, therapists or  attorneys can request a different judge.

So why is this a concern?  Well, first of all, judges often go against  the wishes of all the professionals in a case and just do whatever they  want.  For instance, even if the caseworkers, therapists and attorneys  are strictly against a child going home, the judge can ignore all of those  testimonies and send the child home right away if they wish to do  so.

This may not seem like such a big deal, but when you look more closely it  creates an alarming pattern…

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Should children’s advocates be able to request a different judge? – Dayton Adoptive Families | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/should-children-s-advocates-be-able-to-request-a-different-judge#ixzz1MlL3rw3n

Stupid foster care stereotype #1

Sometimes it really makes me mad when I hear people make blanket statements  about foster or adoptive parents.  Such as the popular, “Most foster  parents only do it for the money.”  I don’t know who started this rumor,  but I wish they could really see the inside reality of what foster parenting is  like.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are a few lousy foster parents who  take in five or ten foster kids and then lock them in cages or closets just so  they can collect all the money, but those foster parents are few and far  between.

For the majority of us foster parents, taking in a foster child is almost a  24 hour job.  If you take in a child that isn’t in school yet, it is  definitely a 24 hour job…

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Doing it just for the money? – Dayton Adoptive Families | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/doing-it-just-for-the-money?fb_comment=33009086#ixzz1M4Xuyp00

Feeling helpless and frustrated

It’s been a hard day as a foster parent.  Today our foster child went to his father’s funeral, and he has pretty much been crying nonstop all day since.  I want so much to take the pain away but I can’t.  I wish I could replace his parents and give him everything he never got from them, but it’s not possible to turn back time. 

I hope that someday he will see that even though he has lost a lot, he still has people who care about him deeply and would do anything in their power to make his life better.  Of course, we can’t raise the dead or make a deadbeat parent step up to the plate and do their job.  I wish we could, but we can’t.  At times like this, I wonder how much we can help at all.  I guess at least he knows that we care and are here for him.

Rough days

The last couple days have been really rough.  My foster son’s dad died unexpectedly Monday, which left us all in shock.  It fell to me to sit my foster son down and break the bad news, which was simply awful to have to do.  As the words came out of my mouth his eyes filled with tears and I just wanted to protect him from it all, but I know I can’t.

I think what made it all even worse is that my own father died when I was the same age as my foster son is now.  My father also shares the same first name with my foster son’s father which is almost downright creepy.  I think since I went through something similar at the same age, I know how much pain my foster son is feeling and I know how impossible it is to make things better for him.  I also know how having a parent die early in your life can almost rob you of your childhood.  If nothing else, it certainly robs you of any security you thought you had. 

Sometimes I wonder why God always such tragedies to befall innocent children.  Isn’t suffering abuse and neglect and being thrust into foster care enough pain for anyone to endure in their childhood?  How much more will this little boy have to go through before his life starts making sense?

Feeling guilty…

Today we had a call to see if we were interested in taking in a 4-year-old foster child.  Due to the child’s particular problems and visitation schedule, I felt that we had to say no.  I really wanted to give it a try, but on the other hand I didn’t want to bring a kid into our house and then have to have him removed within a month or two because we couldn’t take him back and forth to visitation or stay home with him all the time due to our work schedules.

Even though I know we probably made the best decision for him and for us, I still feel bad.  I keep imagining a sad little boy who might end up in a bad foster home or who really wants a family.  It was even harder to say no because we have really been wanting another child.  It’s days like this I really wish that we could be there to help everyone who needs us.  I know we can’t, but I wish we could.

Should you consider doing respite care?

Do you have an extra bedroom available and want to do something to help kids?  Believe it or not, foster care and adoption aren’t the only options available.  If you would prefer short term stays and want to meet lots of different kids, respite care may be the way to go. 

So what is respite care?  Put simply, it’s just giving parents or foster parents a break for a day or two (although some respite stays may go longer depending on the situation).  Foster parents send their foster kids to respite when they have special plans that aren’t child-friendly or when they go on vacation (especially if they go out-of-state since it can be hard to obtain permission to take foster kids with them).  Sometimes regular parents are also allowed to use respite, particularly if they have special needs kids…

To read the rest of this article, please visit Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/would-you-be-a-good-respite-caregiver