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The Forgotten Podcast

We want to see people everywhere supporting the foster care community and experiencing Jesus together. So, in this podcast, we are sharing the stories of the foster care community to bring awareness that leads to action!
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Now displaying: 2023
Dec 18, 2023

“It was like she was returning a book to a library. She dropped me off and she left. It was one of the most traumatic experiences.” – Melinda Melo

Melinda spent her childhood living in some of the most vulnerable communities in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Due to extreme challenges her mother and family faced, she was neglected and exposed to violence, abuse, crime, and substance abuse. As a result, Melinda was in and out of foster and kinship care from the ages of three to fifteen. Uniquely, Melinda’s mother chose multiple times to place Melinda in foster care, which added an extra layer of trauma and extremely difficult emotions.

In this episode, Melinda shares the circumstances that led to her entering foster care, the effects of your identity being reduced to the labels in your file, how she has made sense of her past, the journey of forgiving her mom and welcoming her into her family’s home, and so much more. Today, Melinda has become a biological, foster, and adoptive parent along with her husband of 13 years, Mike.

Melinda’s story is full of challenge, and her healing journey through it all is incredible. Listen in!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/melinda-melo-214/

Dec 11, 2023

Two years ago, on Episode 130 of The Forgotten Podcast, we had the opportunity to hear Brenna Hunter’s journey to reunification with her children who were placed in foster care due to substance abuse. Today, we get to hear how her story continued, as she eventually started working with the very same agency that managed her case. Brenna is working to be a voice for those who are navigating foster care and spreading hope through her own incredible transformation.

In today’s episode, you’ll hear why biological parents can sometimes feel like the system is out to “get” them, how her perspective of foster care agencies has changed since her case closed, what the biggest challenges of working with other parents walking a similar road to recovery has been, and so much more.

This was a special episode, and I don’t want you to miss it. Listen in!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/brenna-hunter-213/

Dec 4, 2023

"When we didn't have adult care, he was the one that would make sure we needed to eat..."

Aimee Cervantes was placed in foster care with her brother at the young age of four. But she would soon experience another loss as the last familiar person in her world was taken from her. Aimee was separated from her brother and they were adopted by different families—All she knew was his birth name, the name of their mother, and the town they had lived in prior to foster care.

In this episode, Aimee shares her experience of being in different forms of care from group homes, foster care, orphanages, and her eventual adoption. She also talks about the deep impact that being separated from her brother had on her life. While much was lost when Aimee entered foster care, she would find it again in her new family and even locate her biological brother when they were both adults.

This is an episode you simply don't want to miss. Aimee openly shares her experience of the foster care system, adoption, and the beauty of connecting with her brother as an adult. Listen in!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/aimee-cervantes-212/

Nov 27, 2023

Today, I have a beautiful story to share with you here on the podcast.

Amanda Stonesifer and Cheyenne Dillon entered each other’s lives when Amanda’s daughters entered foster care and were placed with Cheyenne in 2020. Cheyenne has always had a passion for building relationships with biological parents connected to the foster care community. What started as home visits transformed into a full-blown partnership and friendship. Today, Cheyenne is the adoptive parent of two of Amanda’s daughters and the pair still have a strong friendship that involves support, sleepovers, attending church together, and long weekend visits.

In our conversation, you'll hear how Amanda and Cheyenne have built connection and trust, the power of partnership in foster care, the assumptions many of us carry, and so much more. I really appreciated this episode and the respect Amanda and Cheyenne truly have towards one another, and I know you will too!

Listen in!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/cheyenne-amanda-211/

Nov 20, 2023

One of the questions we often hear from those considering supporting the foster care community is, "When is the right time to become a foster parent?" This question can feel even heavier when we talk to individuals who feel the call to become a foster parent but are not married.

My guest today is a dear friend and someone who has been a single foster parent for more than five years. Jillian Kellenberger served with us here at TFI for 8 years, and she is what you would call an “energy giver." She is so passionate about people, relationships, Jesus, and is uniquely gifted at caring well for people.

Throughout her foster care journey, Jillian has walked through a lot of joy, a lot of sorrow, and has had many tear-filled moments. In this episode, she shares how she decided to become a foster parent as a single woman, the principles she has learned about supporting biological families, her journey through reunification, and some of the beautiful truths she has discovered about God.

I know you will be encouraged and filled with hope from her story!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/jillian-kellenberger-210/

Nov 13, 2023

November is often a time when we bring additional awareness to the foster care and adoption community as many churches recognize Orphan Sunday. In honor of that, we wanted to take a moment to talk more broadly about caring for vulnerable children. We want to use this time to renew our passion for caring for the vulnerable in every stage of life including children in foster care, pregnant mothers, and families.

Joining me is Herbie Newell, an author, speaker, and the President and Executive Director of Lifeline Children’s Services. Under his leadership, Lifeline has increased their international outreach to 25 countries and expanded into 14 states. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife, Ashley, and their three children. Herbie has been working in the child welfare world for the last two decades. He and his wife share a passion for the unborn, life, and adoption and have a desire to spend their lives advocating for “the least of these.”

In this episode, we discuss the importance of increasing awareness, how we can develop compassion for people throughout the foster care and adoption community, the importance of the Church championing care for the vulnerable, and so much more.

As you listen in, I hope you walk away with a renewed passion for where you are called to serve vulnerable families!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/herbie-newell-209/

Get 10% off BetterHelp: https://betterhelp.com/tfi

Nov 6, 2023

You’ve likely heard about trauma, but have you heard of secondary trauma? It’s sometimes referred to as compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and secondary traumatic stress, and it is especially common among helping professionals such as mental health professionals, first responders, and social workers.

My guest today is Blake Boyer, a social worker in the field of child welfare. Blake is a wife, mother, and has a masters in social work in addition to being a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner.

In this episode, Blake shares her experience as a social worker, the challenging effects of secondary trauma in her field, how she approaches her faith in a government position, how we can support those we know who are social workers, and much more.

Listen in!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/blake-boyer-208/

Get 10% Off BetterHelp: https://betterhelp.com/tfi

Oct 30, 2023

Don't forget! For the month of October, applications are open for YOU to become a TFI Advocate, bridging the gap between foster care agencies and churches right in your local community. This only happens twice a year! Learn more and apply here.

I am honored and encouraged by the bravery and honesty of so many of the guests on our podcast. Today's episode is a special one to be able to share.

Jody Golston is the biological mother of three girls. As a result of her challenging struggle with drug addiction, they entered the foster care system. Through a long journey of healing and “choosing her hard,” Jody overcame her addiction and eventually even had the opportunity to became a kinship caregiver for her nephews and spend more time with her daughters.

She has quite the story, moving from a recovering addict to a kinship caregiver and now an advocate for others connected to the foster care community. Today, Jody uses her experiences to encourage and mentor other moms who are involved with foster care through her support group, Tangled Hearts.

Jody's story is one of recovery and restoration after the hardest days of her life, and I encourage you to listen this week.

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/jody-golston-207/

Oct 23, 2023

For the month of October, applications are open for YOU to become a TFI Advocate, bridging the gap between foster care agencies and churches right in your local community. This only happens twice a year! Learn more and apply here.

“I didn’t know what was happening and for the first few years, I feel like I just disassociated from what was happening.” – Darien Karenbauer

It is always an honor to share the stories of those who have experienced placement in foster care in their life. For many children, entering foster care is extremely confusing and can come as a shock as they when they don’t understand how it works, who they can rely on, or where they’ll call home.

My guest today is Darien Karenbauer. Darien is a former foster youth and transracial adoptee who spent six years in the foster care system from ages 10 to 17. He experienced two failed adoptions and even lived in a detention facility (because a home couldn’t be found for him) before he was ultimately adopted at 17 years old.

In this episode, Darien shares his experience of entering foster care with little-to-no knowledge of how the system worked. Though that experience threw him into survival mode, he would eventually be able to build relationships because someone was willing to invest in his well-being before even meeting him.

I am so grateful to be sharing Darien’s story with you!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/darien-karenbauer-206/

Oct 16, 2023

For the month of October, applications are open for YOU to become a TFI Advocate, bridging the gap between foster care agencies and churches right in your local community. This only happens twice a year! Learn more and apply here.

If you’ve ever had a dream in your heart, you know there can be a lot of steps to make it a reality. Along the way, you will likely encounter hardships, delays, and doubts.

I have a special treat for you today as we have not one, but two guests!

Kate Wilson is the Founder and CEO of Foster + Heart, a Non-Profit in Idaho that is dedicated to igniting the community to meet the needs of children in foster care. Even though the journey was long towards realizing her dream, God set things in motion to not only place that calling on her life early on but also see it come to fruition.

Secilia “Cece” Bedolla is a former foster youth and team member at Foster + Heart. Experiencing an incredibly challenging and traumatic upbringing, Cece’s story is a story of discovering hope in the midst of hardship.

I was so honored to have this conversation and I hope it’s an encouragement to you this week! Listen in as they share how God guided their circumstances and gave them the experience to meet the needs of children in foster care today.

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/wilson-bedolla-205/

Oct 9, 2023

For the month of October, applications are open for YOU to become a TFI Advocate, bridging the gap between foster care agencies and churches right in your local community. This only happens twice a year! Learn more and apply here.

Friends, please don’t miss this one!

Today, I have the special opportunity to share an episode about an aspect of foster care that I originally knew very little about: refugee foster care. If you are unfamiliar with this form of foster care, it occurs when a child has migrated to the United States (often all on their own) and it is unsafe to return to their home country. This can also occur when a child is placed in a refugee camp- listen to hear more about how this works.

My guest today is Jamie Bartlett. Jamie is a mom to four biological boys and one adopted daughter. She has fostered 18 children through refugee foster care. Jamie and her husband, Mike, reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they started a church plant. And as of this episode, Jamie is one of our TFI Advocates!

Her story is touching and inspiring. You won’t want to miss this one!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/jamie-bartlett-204/

Become a TFI Advocate: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/become-a-tfi-advocate/

Oct 2, 2023

For the month of October, applications are open for YOU to become a TFI Advocate, bridging the gap between foster care agencies and churches right in your local community. This only happens twice a year! Learn more and apply here.

I love meeting others who are deeply passionate about both the foster care community and the Church. Those are two of our passions here at The Forgotten Initiative as well!

Becoming a TFI Advocate starts with filling out an application. However, for each person who takes this step, the journey starts long before that, often beginning with an awareness that leads to action and a deep passion.

This is a journey I get to explore with Abby Callison in today's episode. Abby is a TFI Advocate in Mason City, IA and a foster parent as well. Long before she could support the foster care community directly, she was exposed to the importance of supporting vulnerable children through a mission trip to an African orphanage and seeing foster care lived out through multiple families at her local church.

In this episode, Abby reminds us of the significant role the Church can have in the foster care community, the unique circumstances that led them to become foster parents, her experience navigating the application process to become a TFI Advocate, why it is important that we identify our unique motivation, advice she would have for people interested in becoming involved, and so much more.

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/abby-callison-203/

Apply to Become a TFI Advocate: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/become-a-tfi-advocate/

Sep 25, 2023

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the people I get to meet through this podcast? What a powerful story of resilience and HOPE I get to share with you today!

Antonio Grate is a former foster youth who grew up in Chicago. His story includes his mother’s addiction, not having his father in his life, and eventually aging out of the foster care system. Even through all these challenges, the pain has not defined his life.

Today, he is a Social and Emotional Strategist, professional speaker, author, minister, husband, and father of four. It’s clear that he is passionate about sharing a message of hope with the foster care community.

It is an honor and a true inspiration to have Antonio join me today!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/antonio-grate-202/

Who Loves Series: https://www.wholovesseries.org/

Sep 18, 2023

Are you looking for practical support? Today’s episode is for you.

Kayla Moffitt went from zero to five children through foster care the same week that her dad passed away from COVID-19. She describes it as a “brokenness” that she started her parenting journey from, something that has been a core part of her own healing journey.

The children they took in were siblings living separated in foster care for the majority of their time in care. Kayla and her husband, Jerad, eventually adopted all of them, many of whom have received psychiatric diagnoses like Bipolar Disorder, RAD, Childhood Schizophrenia, and more.

After struggling to navigate the hard moments of parenting and how to support challenging behaviors and actions, Kayla became a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner, which she says truly “saved our family.” In this episode, we dive into various trauma-informed parenting tactics and hope for those who are parenting children from hard places.

You are not alone!

Get 10% off BetterHelp: https://betterhelp.com/tfi

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/kayla-moffitt-201/

Sep 11, 2023

Join us as we celebrate our 200th episode of The Forgotten Podcast. In this special episode, roles are reversed as Jami Kaeb, the usual host, takes a turn as the guest, while Holly Gnuse steps in as the interviewer.

Since its inception in 2016, "The Forgotten Podcast" has been committed to sharing the stories of the forgotten in the foster care community. In this episode, Jami and Holly reminisce about TFI's podcasting journey, sharing stories from the early days and reflecting on the challenges they've faced.

Beyond the memories, they also discuss the profound impact the podcast has had on its listeners, providing strength and a sense of community during life's challenges. Whether you're a long-time listener or new to the show, this 200th episode is a heartfelt celebration of the podcast's journey, its influence, God's faithfulness, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Sep 4, 2023

Have you ever felt guilty that you couldn't do more? Wished you could simply help more children in foster care? Or perhaps you've felt like you've failed when you reach your limits?

You are not alone.

Anna Koon started her journey alongside the foster care community as a case worker and an adoption specialist. But she quickly wanted to do more, and was dipping into her personal finances to buy items to meet the needs of children in foster care. Anna and her husband couldn’t stand the thought of children sleeping at the DCS office when a foster family couldn’t be found, so they shifted roles to become foster parents specifically for respite and emergency placements.

Anna shares her unique journey with us from being a case worker to becoming a foster parent and insights along the way about supporting the foster care community. I was encouraged by our conversation and I hope you are as well!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/anna-koon-199/

Aug 28, 2023

Trigger Warning: As Kamille bravely and openly shares her experience, we want to make sure you know this episode mentions sexual assault between 11:30-13:00 and briefly again around 22:00.

“They are so resilient. I can see myself in them.” - Kamille Justus

Children in foster care are some of the most resilient people you’ll meet. They navigate continual change, traumatic experiences, and so much more, and their experiences often form a determination within them.

Kamille Justus is one of these resilient people. In her case, that determination was to be a cycle-breaker in her family despite the hardship she had experienced throughout her life.

Today, Kamille is a Lead Family Support Worker at The Center for Youth and Family Solutions, which has locations across Illinois. Kamille has endured her own experiences in what, now, could bring children into care and she is using her experiences to help connect with children and parents. She hopes that her experience can build those connections so that the families within the Knox, Henderson and Warren counties can be supported and reunited.

In this episode, Kamille shares her story, the triggers that have formed as a result of what she experienced growing up, why her trauma created a passion to support others who have gone through something similar, the importance of empathy and compassion, and so much more.

I am so grateful to Kamille for joining me for this conversation!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/kamille-justus-198/

Aug 21, 2023

The story I have for you today spans many roles in the foster care community. My guest, Raquel McCloud, entered kinship care when she was just a young child. Kinship care is when a relative or close family friend takes the role of foster parent instead of a caregiver previously unknown to the child. There are many instances of informal kinship care occurring as well as formal kinship care.

In many cases of kinship care, the relatives are left without many resources to help them establish boundaries with the biological parent who is also their own family member. In today’s episode, Raquel shares her personal story of growing up in kinship care, becoming pregnant as a teen, and how she was given no other option but to put her child up for adoption.

In spite of all she has been through, today Raquel is a birth mom in reunion with the very child she put up for adoption, a kinship adoptive mom to her half-sister, and an advocate for adoption, foster care, and other important topics. While Raquel wishes her life had been kinder, she is thankful that others can be inspired and learn from her experience going from a child in kinship care and biological teen mom to a birth mom in reunion and a kinship adoptive mom.

I am so grateful to Raquel for sharing her story!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/raquel-mccloud-197/

Aug 14, 2023

This is your fault. If you want to stay out of foster care, you’d better behave. If you don’t change your attitude, then they’ll separate you from your siblings.

Can you imagine hearing these messages growing up? This is often the message that is conveyed to children from hard places or who are at risk of entering foster care. They grow up carrying around this guilt and believing they are why their families fell apart. But what they don’t always come to realize is that it was never their fault.

I am grateful to have Dr. Danisha Keating with me on the podcast as she shares her journey of growing up in an abusive and neglectful household where she cared for her siblings. Danisha is a former foster youth and was a guardian to five of her siblings as an adult. She loves to encourage foster care advocates and foster youth to go after their dreams and goals. While Danisha’s journey has not been an easy one, it has helped her find her life’s work.

Thank you for joining me for this conversation with Danisha!

(Don't forget that through the month of August, a generous donor has offered a matching grant up to $20,000! Double your impact today.)

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/danisha-keating-196/

Aug 7, 2023

What are the factors that cause a child to enter foster care? Addiction? Abuse? The reality is, it's rarely a single situation.

Today's episode contains many factors that are all too common in foster care. For Jackie Polk, it was a combination of domestic violence and addiction that led to her children being removed from her care.

Jackie gave birth to twin boys, and 16 months later, the Department of Child Services (DCS) stepped in to remove her children. Her story includes addiction recovery, domestic violence, and eventually foster care reunification.

Today, she is coming up on six years of being clean and sober, is married, and has a two-month-old son in addition to her twins. Jackie's hope is that you find hope through hearing her story and realize that regardless of your circumstances, your story can be rewritten.

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Jackie as much as I did!

(Don't forget that through the month of August, a generous donor has offered a matching grant up to $20,000! Double your impact today.)

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/jackie-polk-195/

Jul 31, 2023

Do you remember how you first became aware of the foster care community? Maybe someone close to you started fostering? Maybe your spouse invited you to pray about pursuing this? Or perhaps a certain statistic impacted your heart?

Ryan MacDonald attributes becoming aware of the needs within the foster care community through his wife's passion for the topic and a class he took in school about how as followers of Jesus we can engage society. Ryan describes it as his wife pulling on one arm and the Lord pulling on the other. (Maybe you can relate?) He is now involved in the foster care community at a variety of levels—at work, through the church he pastors, and within his own family.

Ryan is a follower of Jesus, husband, an adoptive, foster, and biological dad, pastor, and the Regional Director of Foster the City over Los Angeles and Orange County in California. He is a self-proclaimed coffee snob but believes there is a time and place for diner coffee. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his wife, all things theology, basketball, and playing with his kids.

In this episode, Ryan shares openly about his experience as a foster parent, the importance of celebrating reunification, the reality that foster parenting is a skill you get better at over time, and so much more. This was one of my favorite conversations I've had on the podcast!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/ryan-macdonald-194/

Join Team 3:10: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/team310/

Jul 24, 2023

“Every kid, no matter what their circumstances are, should be celebrated and honored just like we do our children.”

Agency workers are the first responders of the foster care community. They are among the first to meet a child, they are keepers of that child’s history, and they know firsthand the needs that often go unmet. With many agencies experiencing unprecedented employee turnover, the challenges facing agency workers continue to increase as they experience secondary traumatic stress, lack of resources, and underappreciation.

Danika Briggs has been a close friend and worked with one of our TFI Advocates in Virginia for many years! She has been in social services for over 20 years and is the Assistant Director for Family Services at the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Department of Social Services in Virginia. Danika plays a vital leadership role in overseeing child welfare programs at their social service agency she also helps resource and encourage agency workers overall.

In this episode, Danika shares how partnerships with organizations like TFI can have an impact on the agency workers and the current challenges they are facing.

I really enjoyed this episode, and I hope you will too!

(Don’t forget that through the month of July, a generous donor has offered a matching grant up to $20,000! Join Team 3:10 today.)

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/danika-briggs-193

Jul 17, 2023

“Being a foster parent was always something that had been on my mind…”

I am excited to have two of my favorite people on the podcast today: Jonah and Sarah Wilson! Sarah is part of our team here at TFI and grew up with foster siblings. So becoming a foster parent was always something she personally wanted to pursue.

When Sarah and Jonah got married, their conversations turned to when the “right time” was to become foster parents and biological parents. While they knew they wanted to be in a stable place for either, they agreed that becoming foster parents would come first.

In our conversation, Jonah and Sarah share the details of what it looked like to become foster parents, where the journey differed from their expectations, how they navigated both the good and the hard parts of foster care, their perspective as both foster and adoptive parents, encouragement they have for other foster parents, and so much more.

I loved this episode, and I know you will too!

(Don’t forget that through the month of July, a generous donor has offered a matching grant up to $20,000! Join Team 3:10 today.)

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/jonah-sarah-wilson-192/

Jul 13, 2023

Welcome to a bonus episode of the podcast! We don’t do these very often, but we wanted to give you a little extra surprise content that we hope is an encouragement to you this week.

It’s always special when we get to share the work of our TFI Advocates, volunteer leaders across the nation who are working to support their local foster care community by bridging the gap between the needs of foster care agencies and the people and resources to meet those needs in local churches.

At our TFI Advocate Retreat last year, we got to share an interview between Lisa Jacobsen, an Advocate in Carver County, MN, and a local pastor as well as a local agency worker to share how they have built trust and started working together to meet needs in their community. In this bonus episode, we get to share that same interview with you! This conversation will give you such a great look into some of the work we’re doing here at TFI, and it brings us so much joy to hear stories just like this one.

(By the way, if you want to make ministry like this possible, we have a matching grant up to $20,000 through the end of July, so your gift can be doubled right now! Double your gift today.)

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/bonus-lisa-jacobsen/

Jul 10, 2023

It’s not uncommon for children impacted by foster care or adoption to desire to find answers, know where they came from, and understand the reason their life has looked the way it has. It can lead many children to question their identity or even wonder if they will ever find a sense of peace at all.

Anna Bernacki grew up in an adoptive home after being placed in foster care as an infant. As a teenager, she began to long for that special biological bond she felt would come from her biological parents. But after meeting her biological mother, Anna was disappointed to find that in her experience, that special connection she had longed for was still missing.

It wasn’t until Anna and her husband, Brian, were foster parents for six years and then adoptive parents to two sibling sets of two (four adoptive children in total!) that she would find healing and come to terms with the identity she carried outside of biological connection.

I really enjoyed my conversation with Anna and appreciated her openness about her story and experiences. I hope you do too!

Show Notes: https://theforgotteninitiative.org/anna-bernacki-191/

Join Team 3:10 (a generous donor has offered a matching grant up to $20,000 through the end of July!): https://theforgotteninitiative.org/team310/

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