69. New Normal- New Space- The Foster Lane is BACK in Janesville and ready to help parents be the parents they want their children to remember

Hello, all!

Can we believe that it has been six months since the United States declared a public health emergency and the world all but shut down. Millions of businesses were impacted, including mine. At the start of 2020 I had an office in Milwaukee and an office in Janesville and business was really starting to take off. I was meeting more and more clients was just starting the talks of hiring a therapist for my Milwaukee office.

Then I got sick. I contracted and became deeply ill with COVID 19 in early March and my business did an about face. I quickly closed both locations and determined that Zoom was the “new normal”. I created a home office and went about my business. I am deeply lucky. My business didn’t flounder in the times of COVID, it thrived. I started seeing more and more clients until I realized one day that I was OVER the maximum amount of clients I said I wanted to see. Approximately 75% of my clients were parents that are working toward reunification and I quickly learned that not all internet is the same.

I put my thinking hat on and pondered the possibilities. What could I do to better support the clients that I was serving? How could I connect with this population in meaningful ways and help send kids back home– and to much safer environments than they left? I put it off as long as I could… then one day I decided that it was time to re-open a physical office. I took to the ads and found a space. It is across the street from the police station in Janesville and the parking lot is an approved place for people that live out of their cars to park at night. The space had room to grow when the right therapist comes along and, most importantly, has room for parent/child visits to occur.

I found as many things around the house as I could to bring to the space and, little by little, it is coming together.

While the space isn’t complete… I do want to welcome you all to the newest office space for The Foster Lane. I have already met clients in the space and meet more in the coming weeks. It is amazing the work that can be completed together!

There are many things that need to be set up and I will get there little by little. If you want to help, I would love to accept it.

Ways you can help:

  • Donate gently used items that can be used in the space and passed along to families as they reunify
    • Children’s toys age range from infant to teenage
    • Pack N Play
    • Children’s utensils
    • Bottles
    • Bibs
    • Children’s books- with a focus on emotions
    • BIPOC written/focused books
    • Cooperative board games
  • Purchase and ship any item off our Amazon wish list. It is constantly evolving!
  • Share this post so others may help as they are able

Together we can do great things. Together we can change the world! Thank you for coming along on this journey with me!

*Disclaimer* The Foster Lane is committed to the safety and well being of all that we work with. As such, there are safety precautions in place for all that engage in meeting in person. This is for the safety and well being of the children who come for visits, the adults that are involved in their care, and our staff. If you have any questions in regards to the safety standards, please do not hesitate to reach out to sarah@thefosterlane.com. I will be more than happy to share.

Thank you!

Sarah

68. It’s June– That means Junteenth and Pride… Let’s celebrate ALL our LGBTQ+ and Black brothers and sisters!

Hello, all, I’m sitting in my comfy suburban home, safe and contemplating the privilege that I experience. Yes, I am gay, and I’m white. It’s that second one that grants me privilege and a safety net around the first descriptor. I recognize that privilege and use that, and this platform to lift up voices far more informed than me.

This month, and every month, I encourage you to listen, follow, and contemplate the words of people of color, transracial adoptees, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Here are just a few to get you started:

Angela Tucker Transracial Adoptee that lifts up voices of other adoptees!!

The Adopted Life (www.theadoptedlife.com) began as a personal blog that allowed me to publicly process my emotions and experience as a transracial adoptee; a means by which I’d hoped to build a community of other adoptees growing up in closed adoptions. The platform has grown in to a 3-part episode series and an online community where honest conversations are encouraged.

I’m so fortunate to be able to live out my mission of strengthening the adoption community by amplifying adoptee voices through multiple venues. Thank you for your support.

-Angela Tucker

Astrid Castro I had the privilege of attending a conference led by her… WOW is all I have to say! An adult adoptee that challenges your ingrained racism!

Astrid’s personal experiences as an adoptee, a woman of color, and growing up in a white family and community, fuel her professional path to helping others. Astrid is aware of the benefits of post-adoption services for individuals and their families and seeks to bring these services to the adoption community. Her life-long interest in adoption is rooted in her own adoption at the age of four from Colombia (along with her older sister). Astrid has been in reunion since December 2012 with her birth family in Colombia. Read the Oregonian article on Astrid!

When Astrid is not working she loves to spend time with family, friends and enjoying the adventures of life as the mama of an amazing teenage daughter.

Good Black News Who doesn’t need some GBN? It is a delight to see come across my feed positive things that are happening in the black community!

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World

Jesse Williams– I mean… come on… Jesse is a level 10 hottie that is also an advocate and educator on issues affecting the black communities!

He uses his celebrity status to influence and educate his 2.3 million Twitter followers about issues that affect people of color. He has a degree from Temple University in African American studies and film and media arts, and taught in the public school system, giving him firsthand experience about the issues he’s passionate about.

Harper Watters-Black, gay, ballerina… need I say more!?

Harper Watters is a soloist for the Houston Ballet. Through his work with the company, the viral videos of him dancing in towering pink heels, and his YouTube channel The Pre-Show, Harper serves as a role model dedicated to empowering those in his communities to live in their authentic expression.

Munroe Bergdorf A black transgender model and activist! What’s not to love?

Munroe Bergdorf is an English model and activist. Bergdorf was the first transgender model in the UK for L’Oréal, but was dropped within weeks after a racial row. In February 2018, she was appointed as an LGBT adviser to the Labour Party, but resigned the following month citing tabloid pressure. Bergdorf went on to star in the Channel 4 documentary What Makes A Woman, which aired in May 2018.

Bergdorf won ‘Changemaker of the Year’ at the 2018 Cosmopolitan Awards, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2019 by the University of Brighton.  She joined UN Women UK as an advocate in 2019, supporting its #DrawALine campaign, aiming to put a stop to female genital mutilation (FGM). (Wikipedia)

Juneteenth– Please take a few moments and learn about this historic date. Then… Sign a petition to make it the NATIONAL HOLIDAY it deserves!

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

Interested in gaining a deeper perspective on systemic racism and how it shapes society as a whole? If so, join me in Unlearning Racism every other Saturday morning! I hope to see you there. Don’t feel like you are ready to speak up and discuss, that’s OK! Come and listen to the discussion. No pressure.

Please tag and comment who YOU find to be critical to follow. 

67. Foster Care Online Support

Hello, all, Mama S here,

I was chatting with some foster parents last week and they said that they are struggling with Covid 19 as it relates to their children. I reminded them about the foster care online support group that I host every other Wednesday evening.  Parenting in the times of Covid 19 is something that none of us were prepared for, let alone prepared to do it alone with just our children to keep us company! The great news is, you don’t have to do it alone.

Every session there are parents that jump on the foster care online support group ready to chat about their triumphs and struggles. Parents that join the group are looking for a listening ear or may be looking to just hear what others are going through with their children so that they don’t feel alone.

The format is straight forward. Join the foster care online support group via zoom… don’t have a zoom account? That’s OK, once you register you will receive a link to click at the time of the session- no account required (you will need the app).

Covid 19 is taking us all, including our children, by storm. Join other foster and adoptive parents and hear their tips and tricks on how they are helping keep their sanity and helping support and connect with their children in these trying times.

Need an example of what we may chat about? If I were a member of the foster care online support group this week, I would chat about helping my children make choices and having the strength to sit by and watch them make mistakes. Our oldest is almost ready for college…*gasp*… and she came to me last week with concern in her eyes and fear in her voice. She had a problem and didn’t know how to move forward. Her school was setting up scheduled sessions for students and they directly contradicted with her work schedule. I simply asked her what her thoughts were and who she had spoken with so far. She told me that she should probably talk with her teacher to see if that was the only time that they could meet and explain about work. I said that sounded like a great idea and asked if she wanted to work through verbiage. She said no and I smiled and sent her on her way. Our children need us to be a sounding board as they get older, they don’t need us to solve everything for them. Our daughter needed someone to bounce an idea off of and ensure that she was on the right page and then a person to come back to after she gave it a shot. If I were a parent at the foster care online support group, I may have presented that as “I don’t know what to do when my daughter comes to me for advice”. The group that joins would be more than happy to offer help and a listening ear to your concerns.

We are all in this together. Covid 19 will not sink our ships! Not if we band together for support.

Biggest Hugs,

Sarah

 

66. Let’s talk about sex baby…

This has been a whirlwind 2 weeks in the Salisott home and I’m not even sure how we got here. To rewind… I started a part time job at Starbucks (Hello Awesome Insurance— just what a small business owner needs!!) and have been working full time hours there, Covid 19 is still just as ripe as a baby diaper, I just finished writing my final for my (fingers crossed) last class of my college degree and one of our kiddos is still at the residential facility. My brain is about to explode and I’m about to pass out from sheer exhaustion. Cue to my daughter… stage right.

One of the things that I have always prided myself on is the ability to be asked anything. I mean anything as long as there is a genuine curiosity. My pre-teen has tested that limit and has asked me…. oh… I’m thinking about 1,375 questions on the topic of sex in the 3 years we have known her. Cool. No biggie. I’d rather have well informed children that are armed to make safe choices than kids that are trying to figure it out in the back of a school yard with a teenager guiding the way– yuck.

Ok, back to the present. My teenage daughter had some questions about the plan B that we keep in the closet for emergencies. We talked about how to use it 6 months ago and went on our merry way. Recently she came to me and stated that a friend found themselves in a pickle with a not so considerate partner and they were in need of the pill. She was more sad to tell me that she had to break quarantine to get it to her friend than the fact that she had to tell me her friend needed it. Cool… I’m doing a great job of setting the stage for an “ask me anything” relationship.

The problem came that neither my daughter, nor her friend, knew anything about the plan B pill, when or how to take it, and what would happen after the fact. I remained calm even though every fiber of my being was alarm bells and told her that her friend could call me and I would talk her through it. If it didn’t work and she became pregnant we could talk through that as well. No judgement. No pressure.

Was this conversation for my daughter’s friend or for her? Both I think. My daughter needs to know that she can come to us for help and that we will work through whatever situation without yelling and shaming. Sex is natural and curiosity about it is as well. Questions are welcome and we want to help set her up for a safe adulthood that doesn’t start too early with unplanned pregnancy.

That being said, I have also set the boundary that sex isn’t a conversation that I just “want to have”. I am her parent and not her BFF. If she needs knowledge in a judgement free zone, cool, I’m her mom. If she wants to gossip, ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR No. That is not a boundary I want to cross.

We rounded out our conversation about the fact that the brain is not fully matured until 26 so she, and her friend, need to be mindful that they are putting themselves in situations that they can’t possibly fully understand the severity of and there is much more at risk than just unplanned pregnancy. We chatted about sexually transmitted diseases, consent, considerate partners vs. inconsiderate partners, making choices that are in her best interest and, of course, reinforcing to come to me with any questions. The whole chat lasted under 20 minutes and was mainly guided by my daughter.

Let your kids ask questions. The more you shut them down and out and shame them for their curiosity, the more likely they are to go to their peers to get answers… if no one knows what they are talking about then they are just going to be spewing out ideas they have- now that’s terrifying.

I do want to confirm… I in no way encouraged my daughter to go out and have sex. If I had it my way she wouldn’t have sex until after the age of 28 after she has established a life for herself (whatever that looks like for her). She knows this… I have told her this multiple times. Alas, teenagers are not on the same page as the, oh so wiser, adults and they do as they see fit in the realm of hormones. I just want to make sure that she is safe and well educated to make safe choices when she is out making these choices.

Not sure how to talk to your kids about sex? Join me on Wednesday evenings between 6pm and 7pmCT on my zoom and we can chat about some talking points. Or, sign up for parent coaching and we can take a deeper dive! Either way… You’ve got this!

Sarah

65. Parenting in the times of “safer at home”

Hello, everyone. I have been putting off writing a post because I wanted to see what happened in the world. I was like everyone else, sitting on the edge of my seat watching the articles and news trickle in. I was a person that took Coronavirus (COVID-19) seriously when it was “still in China” and that wasn’t enough to keep me from catching the virus.

April 13th, 2020 my fever spiked to just over 101 degrees at about midnight. I had had a slight odd sore through the Wednesday before but didn’t think anything of it. The next 3 weeks were brutal. There was more than one point that I thought I was going to die. My thoughts went to my family. My wife, our daughters, one getting ready to launch into the world and the other living in another state at a facility. How would they do if I didn’t make it. If I suffocated in my sleep, as was my biggest fear. Would the world move on without me quickly or would my little corner of the world stop for just a few moments in the midst of a crisis?

These are not thoughts any parent wants to be having at 2am. Let alone a parent in their mid thirties. A parent that has to put on a brave face for their kiddo that is living a state away in a facility who is deathly afraid of natural illness and crisis. A child that has attached closely to me in a way that she hasn’t been able to do so with anyone else. How could I give up and leave her alone? I couldn’t. So I fought. I pushed through excruciating pain and I walked around the house at the pace of turtle walking through molasses. But I walked. I went outside and let the crisp air fill my lungs while my family sanitized the house day after day. I pushed through and I’m on the mend.

I share this, mainly because I get how hard it is to parent in the time of safer at home, and I know how hard it is parent while sick with this virus.

It all seems impossible. We love our kids. We love them more than life itself, and yet we just want one moment of peace! One moment where someone isn’t standing in front of you, or on your lap, or hanging from your neck while you try to use the restroom. One moment when these young humans are not looking to you for answers we don’t have.

This pandemic has us all reeling. The adults are struggling with their mental health and we can sit on zoom once the kiddos finally succumb to sleep and chat with friends while drinking a glass of wine (or Fresca in my book :D). We can talk to our parents, our significant others, we can read things online, and we can access tools to help us cope. We are ALL that to our kiddos. That is a heady task. You don’t have to do it alone.

If you are interested in parent coaching, message me. I’m offering one heck of a discount right now (33% off for life). I specialize in working with parents through the hardest parts of parenting. Check out the testimonial page for what current/past clients have said.

Not interested in parent coaching? That’s cool too. Find your people. Your support. A therapist, a friend that “gets it”, a fellow parent that is in the same boat and will help you through the muck- that validates your feelings and helps you through them.

Find your people because the one thing that is perfectly clear right now, in a time when things are murky at best, is that we need each other more than ever.

Biggest of hugs!

Sarah

64. When the World Stops Seeing the Trauma

Trauma isn’t healed in a night, or month, or even one plus years. Trauma has the ability to change the structure of a child’s brain. That sort of change takes a strong intervention and consistent work, patience, understanding, and determination to move small blocks. Most of all, it takes time.

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63. On the “other side”

We have always extended grace to the parents of our kiddos. We knew it was hard to have all your interactions supervised, we just didn’t know how hard that truly was. We do now.

I sat in a strange chair in a strange room with one sided glass on the wall and a video camera in the corner. Act naturally, I though. You have nothing to worry about. This is routine and “they” just want to see a baseline of how you and your kiddo interact so they can gauge progress of the program. Easier said than done as I anxiously steal a glance at that camera in the corner. To be blissfully unaware as the kiddo. To not know what is on the line. To not have your heart beating so loudly that people 3 buildings away can hear it. I will never forget that feeling, the smell of that room, or the reason we were sitting at that table.

It’s crazy to think that we have found ourselves in the position of people that have their visits and phone calls supervised for the time being. Let me tell you, there is nothing in this world that is more uncomfortable. No other experience could have prepared us for the anxiety that comes with answering the phone knowing that someone is writing everything down to analyze your relationship. Nothing could have prepared us for the deep anxiety of participating in an attachment assessment. To know that there is a complete stranger on the other side of one way glass that is watching and recording you when you are supposed to be interacting naturally with your kiddo.

We have been huge advocates for extending grace and understanding to kiddo’s parents in the past; it is so much more than that now. I hope, for your sake, that you never know the discomfort of this feeling.

That being said, this is where we are. This is where situations brought us and we will adapt and overcome (as a dear friend says). We will learn to function in this new normal and we will heal together, as a family.

So I ask you… the next time that you are supervising a visit or phone call and you feel anxiety or wanting to be done from the other side… please extend grace and put yourself in their shoes. How would it feel to know you love your kiddos with all your heart and it is someone else’s role to judge that? Only then can we come together in the triangle to heal all around for the kiddos in our care.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with us and allowing us to share our stories.

62. Where we went

Good evening, family, friends, and readers. We disappeared. We folded into ourselves and our home due to stress and trauma taking over. I ended up having to take a break from work due to stress and our kiddos struggles were real. That is where we are. Foster care isn’t always sunshine and roses; in fact, it isn’t most days. Many days trauma jumps up and bites you in your places you were not paying attention to only to have you settle that down and have it jump up in a different place. You are not alone. We are not alone. Find your group. I am starting a support group in my local area. If there isn’t one where you are, start one! Drive to find one. Talk to your friends and family. If there isn’t a group for them, invite them to come to the greater Milwaukee area to my group for friends and family of foster parents.

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