Many people embark on the journey of adoption and foster care but are unprepared for the challenges that await them along the way. Replanted takes an honest look at the joys and hardships that come with choosing this journey and provides a model of faith-based support made up of three parts to help families thrive: Soil, Sunlight, and Water.
- Soil, or emotional support, addresses the need for grace-filled settings where families can connect with other families who understand their experience.
- Sunlight, or informational support, focuses on obtaining helpful training to raise children who may have unique needs or challenges.
- Water, or tangible support, deals with concrete resources such as medical care, child care, and financial support.
Throughout the book, the Replanted model is brought to life by stories and examples based on the clinical work and personal experiences of the authors. Their candid insight will serve families who are actively involved in adoption or foster care, as well as people who are eager to help support those families.
Replanted affirms that with the right support system in place, parents can answer this sacred call not only with open hearts but also with their eyes wide open.
About the Author
Jenn Ranter Hook, MA is the founding director of Replanted (www.ReplantedMinistry.org)—a ministry that helps empower the church to support adoptive and foster families. After receiving her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Wheaton College, she worked as a therapist for children in the foster care system. She is a trauma-specialized therapist and a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) practitioner. She speaks frequently on topics related to adoption and foster care support, mental health, and trauma. She lives in Dallas, TX with her husband Josh. Joshua N. Hook, PhD is an associate professor of counseling psychology at the University of North Texas and is a licensed clinical psychologist (LCP). He has written four books, including Helping Groups Heal: Leading Small Groups in the Process of Transformation (Templeton Press, 2017). He blogs regularly about psychology and faith at www.JoshuaNHook.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his wife Jenn. Mike Berry is an author, podcaster, speaker, and parent coach. He and his wife Kristin are parents to eight children, all through adoption, and served as foster parents for eight years. Mike has written four books, including Winning the Heart of Your Child: 9 Keys to Building a Positive Lifelong Relationship with Your Kids (Baker Publishing Group, 2019). He is also the cocreator, along with Kristin, of the award-winning blog www.confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com. He lives on a farm with his family just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Read an Excerpt
Caring for Vulnerable Children Is Challenging and Beautiful
The beginning is always today.
— MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT
As I (Jenn) begin to write this book, my mind wanders back to one of our Parents' Night Out events, which is an event our ministry organizes so that adoptive and foster parents can have a night out to themselves and our kiddos can build relationships with one another. We get a group of volunteers together and come up with a bunch of fun activities for the children so that the parents can get a few hours to go out alone. One husband told me that he and his wife were planning to have dinner at the local Olive Garden, and we laughed, agreeing on our mutual love for the unlimited salad and breadsticks. Another couple was planning to see a movie with a few friends. They hadn't been out to see a movie in — well, they couldn't remember the last time. Another couple hadn't planned anything. They chuckled and said that maybe they would just go home and take a nap. I wasn't sure if they were joking or not. But one thing was clear, our parents needed this time to recharge and care for themselves, and for some, our offering of Parents' Night Out was the only opportunity they would get.
We had a great time with the kids. It was fun to see the children laughing, playing, and connecting with one another. As I ventured from room to room, I realized we were also creating a deeper community for our kids — where they could be with others on a similar journey and know that they are not alone. The night went off without any major problems or incidents. Sure, there was a bathroom accident, but luckily the parents had left a change of underwear and clothes. I had to intervene in a few places where the children were having a tough time, and the volunteers weren't sure what to do. I chuckle, remembering my then-boyfriend Josh (who is now my husband) struggling to problem-solve with a young girl who didn't want to be in the group she was assigned to, but who started to cry and scream when Josh suggested she join a different group because her bracelet didn't match the new group's. When the children arrived, they were each given a colored bracelet to help them remember which team leader they were with for the evening. Her bracelet was orange, but the group she wanted to be in had purple. Josh quickly dug through the materials and found an extra bracelet that matched the color of the new group and calmed the crisis. Many readers can likely understand the difficulty our children can experience with transitions like this one.
As the night came to a close and the parents came by to pick up their children, I reflected on what had happened. Although the evening was energizing, and I loved the ministry and playing with the kids, I was tired. It was a lot of work, and I was ready to head home and go to sleep. Something clicked, and I realized I recognized a similar feeling reflected in each of the parents' eyes who dropped off their kids that night. They were tired. Being an adoptive and foster parent was energizing and rewarding, but it was also draining. Their lives were filled with joy and love for their children, as well as the satisfaction of joining with God to engage in the meaningful pursuit of caring for the vulnerable. But responding to the trauma and special needs that are unique to children impacted by adoption or foster care is challenging.
The paradox here is that the journey is beautiful and difficult all at the same time. As a former therapist for children in foster care, and then as a leader of a ministry for adoptive and foster families, I had the privilege of coming in and out of the lives of families and (hopefully) offering some support, help, and hope. But the parents and families were the real shepherds. These were the people who were giving it their all, day after day, even when they felt they had nothing left to give. I smiled, recognizing that we all had an important part to play in responding to God's call to care for vulnerable children, and this was holy work, kingdom work. Then I packed up and went home to bed.
The journey of adoption and foster care is rewarding and meaningful. Many adoptive and foster parents say their parenting journey is the most meaningful and joyful part of their lives. I remember one adoptive mom who teared up when she was reflecting. Even though her two adopted girls had gone through some tough times, she said, "I wouldn't trade in my family for anything. They are my world." Caring for vulnerable children is deeply connected with the heart of God. Opening up your home and family to a child in need is incredibly moving and amazing. Adoption and foster care connect with important values that are deeply integral to what it means to be a Christian. It is a beautiful expression of love: it involves caring and sacrifice for a child in need. It is a powerful expression of justice: it involves meeting the needs of vulnerable children and the "least of these." And it is a wonderful expression of faithfulness: it involves sticking with a child for the long haul, whether that is permanently or temporarily, and through the inevitable ups and downs. Being willing to serve as an adoptive or foster parent involves becoming the hands and feet of Jesus to a child. If you are involved on this journey, you are doing a great and mighty thing. I am in awe of your love, commitment, and faithfulness.
But another reality is just as true: being an adoptive parent, foster parent, or kinship caregiver (i.e., a relative, such as a grandparent, who cares for the child when the child's biological parents are unable to do so) can be challenging. If you are on this journey right now, you know this in a unique and personal way. The challenges can feel overwhelming and might leave you feeling alone, rejected, and isolated. You might even question whether you should have become an adoptive or foster parent in the first place.
These struggles are a reality for many of our adoptive and foster families, but there is also hope. Hope for things to get better. Hope for healing and growth, both for you as a parent, your children, and your family. Hope for you and your family to get support — to get your needs met in a real, tangible way. Hope for God to be alive and moving in the midst of your pain and struggle. The hope we speak of may not mean that everything is working out, your children are behaving, your home is peaceful, or all of your plans are lining up the way you thought they would. Sometimes hope is found in the middle of the dark or defeating circumstances in which we find ourselves. It is in knowing and trusting that your Heavenly Father is holding on to you, even when the storms in your life are the fiercest, and that he willingly steps into our mess. Hope is also found when we join with others who are on the journey. We'll talk more about support later, but it's important to note here that hope is found through Jesus, and that often comes to life more than anything through our relationship with others who are on this journey with us.
Who This Book Is For
Where are you in your journey of adoption and foster care? Throughout this book, I use the phrase "adoption and foster care," but this book is for anyone involved in caring for vulnerable children — including adoptive parents, foster parents, kinship caregivers, Safe Families parents, and those who are considering such type of involvement. (Safe Families is an organization that provides temporary respite care for children whose parents need additional support, without having their child removed and placed in a foster home. Parents maintain guardianship of their child and have access to their child while the child stays with a Safe Family. Placements can range anywhere from one day to one year in length, and it is completely voluntary on the parents' part. For example, a mother who is having surgery may not have anyone to care for her children while she is recovering, so she can place her children with a Safe Family until she is back on her feet again.)
Maybe you are at the beginning of your journey. Maybe you feel a call to care for vulnerable children but you don't know exactly what that looks like yet. Or maybe you are in the middle of your journey and are having a tough time. You recognize the beauty of the journey but are also having difficulties and need support. Or maybe you don't personally feel called to adopt or foster, but you still feel a strong call to do something. It may be a realization that the folks in your congregation or neighborhood are struggling and could use a helping hand. You want to support adoptive and foster families, but you don't know how to best do that. Or perhaps you have friends or family who have adopted or fostered, and you are struggling to walk alongside them in the journey and understand why adoptive or foster parenting is unique compared to more traditional types of parenting.
Wherever you are in your journey, this book is a guide for you. Many adoptive and foster families are struggling and feel as if they are alone. At a foundational level, the heart of this book is for you to feel validated and supported right where you are — in the beauty and the struggle. The reality is that the adoption and foster care journey involves joy and heartache — death and resurrection. I long for you to know, at a deep, heart level, that you are not alone. We all need safe, loving, grace-filled relationships and communities that accept our families right where we are — in our beautiful messes.
I hope this book encourages you and lets you know that you are not alone, and you are not crazy. Also, I want to acknowledge that sometimes friends, family, and the church can have good intentions and try to help, but this "help" can actually do more harm than good. For example, maybe your church told you it couldn't meet the needs of your child, so your child couldn't come to Sunday school anymore. Maybe you had a friend who immediately tried to give you advice when you were struggling, even though she didn't understand your situation or your child. If you have been hurt during this journey by your friends, family, or church community, I am deeply sorry. It might feel difficult to get into a place where you feel safe to reach out for help again. That makes sense.
Throughout this book, you will read stories of adoptive and foster families who are just like you — facing real-life challenges and doing the rewarding but sometimes exhausting work of parenting children from hard places. I try to be honest with these stories. I don't shy away from the pain and struggle, but I also want to share stories of families working through their difficult circumstances and recognizing that they are not alone. You will also learn about the importance of support — what kinds of support systems exist for adoptive and foster families, and how you can advocate for yourself and your family to get the support you need. You will also learn about how churches can work to support adoptive and foster families and invite these families to participate fully in the richness of a loving, grace-filled community.
In the end, my goal is that you will be instilled with hope, wherever you are — not hope that your problems will go away or that you will suddenly solve all your children's difficulties and problems. Although great, that would be impossible. I can't remove or take away your difficulty and struggle. Instead, my goal is that you will experience hope and understand that it is possible to experience a full, vibrant, healthy life as an adoptive and foster family. You can learn new skills to help you improve your relationship with your child and with your spouse. You can gather a group of faithful people around you to help support you through your ups and downs. You can have people who understand you and have your back, no matter what. And you can be a church community that actively cares for vulnerable children and supports adoptive and foster families in a way that really works.
Let me tell you a bit about myself and my background. My name is Jenn Ranter Hook. I'm originally from Canada, and I moved to the United States to attend graduate school at Wheaton College, which is near Chicago. After getting my master's in clinical psychology, I worked as a therapist in the foster care system. In my work with children and families, I first recognized that families needed more support.
For example, I remember working with Lindsey (age five) and Edward (age eight). These siblings had been placed in a Christian foster home, and I started doing therapy with each of the children, and occasionally the parents as well. The parents were loving and supportive and had a genuine heart to care for vulnerable children. They felt a call from God to foster and prayerfully considered this call for some time before committing to the journey. They also had two other children in the home (two boys — one three years old and another eighteen months).
Even though they were in a good place as a family, the parents were in deep trenches with Lindsey and Edward. The siblings were experiencing some serious emotional and behavioral problems at the time of their placement. Lindsey had been sexually abused, which was the primary reason for the children going into foster care in the first place. She would act out, escalating from zero to a hundred in the blink of an eye. The parents also once found Lindsey playing doctor with their three-year-old son and were uncertain about whether this was developmentally normative or might represent a repetition of her previous sexual abuse. Edward was struggling as well, especially with feelings of sadness and depression. He also didn't want to leave his biological parents and seemed down and withdrawn most days. At one point, the foster parents came into therapy because Edward had tried to run away on multiple occasions, and had also tried to cut himself with a knife. At age eight, Edward told them that he wanted to kill himself, and they just didn't know how to handle that. He was troubled that he was not able to protect his sister from the abuse she experienced, and he desperately wanted to return home to his mother.
As I sat with the parents in the therapy room, we worked through several issues. We talked about the effects of trauma on children, and I normalized the reactions Lindsey and Edward were having. We discussed the need to adapt parenting strategies to help children who have trauma histories. We came up with a plan for keeping Lindsey, Edward, and their children safe. And throughout the course of therapy, Lindsey and Edward made progress. Lindsey was able to share her feelings with me, and later with her foster and birth parents, which helped reduce her acting-out behaviors. She learned coping skills for how to take care of herself when she started to escalate. Edward was able to communicate some of his sadness through play therapy, and he no longer was suicidal. There were bright spots as a family — movie nights, play dates in the park, and soccer games.
We also spent a lot of time talking about support. As with many families I saw, the parents were more or less on their own. They didn't have adequate support from their friends, family, or church community. Their children felt alone. They felt alone, as if they were the only ones struggling with these kinds of issues. As a therapist, I knew other families living with similar kinds of issues and feelings. The aloneness these families felt was destroying any hope the families had for healing and growth. I couldn't help but think, Where is the church in this?
From this place a group of us developed an organization called Replanted (www.ReplantedMinistry.org) in 2011, a ministry that organizes and provides faith-based support for adoptive and foster families. Replanted is a place for families wherever they are on their journey. Parents are encouraged to get involved with support from the very beginning, even as they are working to discern their call from God to foster or adopt. The vast majority of our parents are in the trenches, working day to day in both the beauty and the struggle that is adoptive and foster parenting. We help facilitate authentic community with others who understand the joy as well as the challenge and struggle of adoption and foster care. I remember one adoptive parent who approached me in disbelief about the support she received from participating in a Replanted group with others who truly got it. She had a strong support network of friends in her area, but none who understood the adoption or foster care journey firsthand. The support she received from others speaking a similar language was unlike anything she had experienced. I remember her saying with tears in her eyes, "This ministry is filling a void of support I didn't realize I needed until now."
Replanted also provides a way for church communities to get involved in a real, tangible way to partner with and support adoptive and foster families. We all have a significant role to play. The call to care for vulnerable children is deeply biblical and something that can unite the church. Replanted is not about one church, but about the church as we seek to be the unified body of Christ. This book was born out of my experiences over the years as both a therapist and a leader of a national organization that works to provide support to adoptive and foster families.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Replanted"
Copyright © 2019 Jenn Ranter Hook, Joshua N. Hook, and Mike Berry.
Excerpted by permission of Templeton Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Section 1 Introduction and Theoretical Foundation
Chapter 1 Caring for Vulnerable Children Is Challenging and Beautiful 3
Chapter 2 Life in the Trenches 23
Chapter 3 Discerning the Christian Call to Care for Vulnerable Children 59
Section 2 The Replanted Model
Chapter 4 The Soil: Emotional Support 91
Chapter 5 The Sunlight: Informational Support 123
Chapter 6 The Water: Tangible Support 151
Section 3 Support in Context
Chapter 7 How to Help without Hurting 175
Chapter 8 Support through the Church 195
Chapter 9 You Are Not Alone 219
Appendix A Books 229
Appendix B Conferences and Retreats 231
Appendix C Trainings 233
Appendix D Websites 235
About the Authors 259
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Replanted is an important read for those who are considering fostering and/or adopting, but also for those who want to be supportive to these families! The authors make an important point: To encourage Christians to foster and adopt without providing support for them after they do so, is to set them up for failure. Churches and Christian communities need to be prepared to support the families who step out in adoption and fostering. As an adoptive mom of three daughters from China and two biological daughters, I am blessed to have been part of Christian communities and churches that provided emotional and practical support. I have seen families who were not supported, and it can be extremely hard. This book helps people understand how to come alongside, and the importance of churches bringing leadership to this. The authors of this book make quite a few important observations and they take the time to develop these into excellent advice, using real life stories. One excellent point that comes out is the way the authors encourage the adoptive and foster parents to ask for help. Another excellent point is encouraging those who know and love adoptive families to continue to offer help -- beyond the first few months - and how to be specific in offering help. The authors also provide at the end of each chapter a chance for the reader to apply the material to his or her own situation. Very well done! I would particularly recommend this book to families who are just starting their journey into fostering or adoption AND to those who want to support these families. I would also recommend this book to churches who want to be more supportive. Churches who are already supporting families well in this area may not find much additional information in the text, but there are quite a few resources listed at the back of the book. And these forerunner churches will feel encouraged for sure - just to see a book promoting this in more churches and communities.
REPLANTED is a much-needed resource offering Christian support to foster and adoptive families, as well as educating others about the importance of providing support for these families. This book offers guidance for the various struggles families encounter while raising foster and adopted children. Replanted also stresses the importance that families seek out emotional, informational, and tangible support. The final section of the book details how others, including family, friends, and the church, can provide wraparound support to these families in unique circumstances that are often not well understood. This is a wonderful guide for anyone involved in orphan care ministries! I was provided an advance copy of this book. I was happy to leave an honest review.
This book is such a valuable resource for foster and adoptive parents. Research and support have come a long way in the last 10 years. I truly wish I would have had this resource when I first became a foster parent (and even while I was deciding to become one). A must-read for all those even interested in the journey of fostering and adopting.
The authors have a thorough understanding of the whole picture when it comes to adoption and fostering. Highly recommend this book to anyone considering adoption/foster care and/or in the middle of doing it. I also think this book is highly beneficial for those who are related to someone adopting/fostering and wish to be more supportive -or at least better informed. So, so good.
This book is an excellent resource for both the adoptive parent and for people considering adoption/foster care. I found it encouraging and hopeful on a journey that at times can seem disheartening. It helps to remind us why we began this journey and that there is always hope.
I loved this book. It is a great resource for potential adoptive or foster parents. It is also great for anyone in their community, such friends, family, and support workers. Jenn Ranter Hook, and her co-authors, Joshua Hook and Mike Berry, draw from their experience as counselors and an adoptive parent to address a wide spectrum of issues that parents deal with. They also offer practical tips for those around them to support foster and adoptive families. It is written in a warm, relatable style from the perspective of someone that has walked along the path, through the mud, and has experience in the subject, rather than offering theoretical advice. At the end of every chapter, there are exercises for the reader to think about how to apply what has been discussed in that chapter. It is laid out in an easy to follow, logical order for anyone to gain insight. The appendices are filled with helpful resources as well. As an adoptive and former foster parent, this book is highly recommended.
This book is a useful tool particularly for those who are not yet familiar with the world of foster care and adoption but want to pursue a deeper level of engagement with this community. This book attempts to reach foster and adoptive parents, people interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents, and those wishing to serve those families either as individuals or through their church or organization. That's a big audience! The authors accomplish this by breaking down the book into three sections. The first is a basic overview of the trauma and attachment issues foster/adoptive families commonly face. I think this is a great starting place for those who are just starting to explore whether or not they should pursue foster care and adoption because it's a realistic yet hopeful look and the challenges you may face. The second section is most helpful for those who have already taken steps to become foster and adoptive parents and those who have already brought children home and may be several years into their parenting journey. It walks you through three specific areas of support (emotional, informational, and tangible) and helps you take inventory of your families needs and gives lots of practical advice about where and how to build your support system. The third section speaks to those who want to walk beside these families in supportive roles. Having walked through the overview of unique issues they face and the 3 veins of support they need, the author then challenges this audience subset to dig in and get dirty with foster and adoptive families to help them thrive. The questions at the end of each chapter help the reader think more deeply about the text, and gives space to write out her thoughts in response. Included in the end of the book is a long list of other resources to encourage further learning on these topics.
This book was such an encouraging read and refreshing! I am only a couple years into my fostering journey and so much of this I wish I had at the beginning. I love how the book offers real examples and suggestions as how to support those in the trenches of the foster/adoptive journey. This book has helped me learn new ways to wrap around others and support them in this important work. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone working with or around foster/adoptive parents or workers.
I really wish that I would have had this book before I started my foster care and adoption journey because it would have changed things along the way. However, it is also very much applicable for veteran foster parents, adoptive parents, churches and child placing agencies. Throughout the book, I found so much validation in what I was seeing and experiencing. Having my own experiences normalized was comforting. The questions at the end of each chapter really help you process and apply what you've learned. It will be a book I will keep handy for the years to come and return to as life changes.