All posts by Dr. John DeGarmo

About Dr. John DeGarmo

Dr. DeGarmo has a B.A. in History, a Masters in Media Technology, a Masters in Educational Leadership, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Walden University. Dr. DeGarmo wrote his dissertation on Responding to the Needs of Foster Children Face While in Rural Schools.  He is the author of several books, including the highly inspirational book Fostering Love: One Foster Parent's Journey,  and the foster care children's book A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s Story. He is the host of the weekly radio show Foster Talk with Dr. John. Dr. DeGarmo is a dynamic speaker and informative trainer on the foster care system, and travels extensively, meeting with foster parents, child welfare workers, churches, schools, and organizations.  He writes regularly for many magazines, and is a regular contributor to several publications and newsletters, both in the United States and in Europe. Dr. DeGarmo is married to Dr. Kelly DeGarmo, who hails from Australia, and the two of them have six children, both biological and adoptive.  Dr. DeGarmo and his wife are also currently foster parents to five siblings, bringing their household to eleven children.  Dr. DeGarmo has been a foster parent for dozens of children for over a decade now.  He has a passion for foster children, and is driven to bring education and insight into general society about all things foster care. You may contact him at drjohndegarmo@gmail.com, on Facebook at Dr. John DeGarmo, Twitter @drjohndegarmo, or at his website, http://drjohndegarmofostercare.weebly.com

Finding the Right Landlord when you Rent

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As more and more of the nation turn away from homeownership, the number of people renting has increased greatly. Many of those now living in rental homes were once homeowners.   Some are no longer able to own their own home due to foreclosures and bad credit reports, while others are unable to purchase a home due to more restrictive credit standards.

Make no mistake; there are benefits to renting a place to live.  To begin with, as a renter, you often do not have to worry about maintenance and repair costs. If something breaks, the landlord or superintendent is usually the one to repair and replace it.  Along with this, there are those rental options where some utilities are included.  Credit requirements are also less strict for those who rent as opposed to those who purchase a home.

With renting on the rise, finding the right place to rent, and to live, can at times be a lengthy process.  Perhaps the most important part of this process is finding the right landlord.  It is important to recognize the signs of what a bad landlord might look like. Continue reading

Meditation

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It had been a long, stressful day.  Responsibilities at work were at a record high.  Driving home was a challenge, due to heavy traffic.  The lines at the grocery store were at least 6 people deep.  I had not had a good night’s sleep in several days.  The tension in both my neck and lower back were at a record high, and my head was pounding with a headache that wanted me to simply find a dark and quiet corner, somewhere.   Yet, I had responsibilities at home I could not ignore.  I needed some sort of deliverance or miracle to make it through the next few hours.

I imagine you have had days like that, as well.  Days where it seemed the weight of the world was crushing you down.  Days where you felt that everything was against you.  Days when you felt you just didn’t have the strength to go on.  What is a person to do? Continue reading

My Daughter’s Trip to Dubai

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Two years ago, my oldest daughter graduated from high school.  As her mother is from Australia, my daughter took a year off between high school and college, and spent the year traveling and working in Australia.   She really grew from the experience in a number of ways, and it gave me a great excuse to travel to Australia to see her.

At the end of this year, another daughter of mine will graduate from high school. Like her older sister, this one has the travel and adventure gene in her, as well, and wants to set off for her own journey, with Dubai as one of her destinations.   As the protective father, I had to do my research on the most populous city in the United Emirates.  To be sure, I have a very good friend who has been there several times, and he has raved about it over and over.   According to him, Dubai has so much to offer, so many opportunities located in one large city; many such opportunities that most large cities simply do not.

So the Daddy in me did my due diligence and began my research.  As one who used to snorkel in Australia, I was excited to see that Dubai offers beautiful waters and awe inspiring snorkeling off their coast.   Indeed, there is the opportunity to really get a fantastic view of the coral reefs, along with a number of wrecks on the ocean’s floor for my daughter to explore.  Yet, what she wants to do most, it seems, is sky dive. Now, I am not that brave. I have experienced just about everything, but that is not one thing I have on my bucket list. It is on hers.   She wants to jump out of a plane and sky dive.   As one who has lived the motto of Carpe Diem in all I do, I admire her desire to do this, and encourage her. I just won’t join her, myself!

Despite the fact that we know people who live in Dubai, and who can help look after her if she should visit, I needed to check to see if Dubai was a safe for my daughter.   The protective father in me was relieved to see that it is.

When my oldest daughter left our small town of 4,000 people, nestled in the middle of rural Georgia, I had many a person ask me how I felt about my daughter traveling the world and being away from my family for an extended period of time.   My response was that I was excited that she had the opportunity to see the world, immerse herself in new cultures and customs, and learn from a global perspective.  I was excited for the chance for my daughter to grow from all of these experiences.   Since her travels, she has come back, and has a greater appreciation not only of the world, but for what she has in life.  For my next daughter, I am just as excited.  Whether she travels to Dubai, or another part of the world, I am eager for her to discover the world, and discover herself.

The Importance of Laughter and Play for Children in Foster Care

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It was noisy.

The seven year old was laughing. Laughing very, very loudly. Running through the house, the little blond haired boy was chasing our five year old daughter. Indeed, both were laughing, and the noise was echoing through the entire house. It wasn’t long before they begun this game of chase that our three year old joined in.

It was noisy. And, it was beautiful.

For the first time, our seven year old son from foster care was laughing. In fact, it was the first time the seven year old had even smiled in our home. Andrew had been living with us for four months, placed into our foster home due to severe and horrific abuse from the hands of his mother; his mother, the person who was supposed to shield her own son from all harm. Instead, his mother had abused her son so traumatically over a long period of time in his short life that Andrew had never really been given the opportunity to laugh. This innocent seven year old child had never known what it was like to, quite simply, have fun; never given a reason to smile.

The first months of Andrew’s time in our house often saw my other children, both biological and adoptive, try to invite their newest foster sibling into their world of play and imagination. At each invite, and each opportunity, Andrew would instead cling to my wife and I, choosing not to engage with the others. When either my wife or I were in the kitchen cooking, in the bedroom folding clothes, or other house duties, the seven year old would stand closely next to one of us. If either of us were sitting down, the child would sit next to us. Either way, he would never speak, simply cling to us, in his own world of trauma and anxiety.

Today, though, was different. For some time, Andrew was watching some of the other children playing in the lounge room, while my I was in the other other room, taking care of the dirty laundry. Perhaps it was the consistent approach from my children; perhaps it was his curiosity; perhaps he realized that his siblings from foster care were not going to hurt him. Whatever it was, Andrew finally joined in, and when he did, it was as if the flood gates of laughter had opened. I watched in amazement as this seven year old, this seven year old who never once expressed any emotion of happiness, joy, or amusement, was laughing. This seven year old boy was healing.

Laughter and play are wonderful ways for children in foster care to begin their healing process, as they help these children in need cope with their stresses, traumas, and anxieties. Indeed, as children in foster care begin to find a sense of humor, they will find it to be a resourceful tool they can use. As Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D. states,
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” Continue reading

Foster Children and Online Technology: A Feeling of Control- A World of Danger

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Curtis was not in control. In fact, he had no control with just about everything in his life. After all, Curtis was in foster care.

Thirteen year old Curtis was placed into foster care after suffering neglect from a mother who was addicted to and sold illegal drugs. The teenager had been separated from his other two siblings, a younger brother and sister, as there were no foster homes in the area able to take in three children at that time. The foster teen’s father had been in and out of the family’s life, just as he had been in and out of jail. When Curtis arrived in his new foster home, he was confused, he was lonely, and he was scared. Curtis had been taken from everything he knew. He had been taken from his mother, his father, his brother, and his sister. He had been taken from his bedroom, his toys, his baseball card collection, his pet dog, his house, his home. The teen had been taken from his grandparents, his aunts, his uncles, his cousins, his neighbors, his friends, his teachers, and his classmates. Indeed, Curtis had been taken from everything that was familiar to him, everything he knew, and everything he loved. Continue reading

Being the Role Model your Foster Child Needs

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Role models. They are everywhere. A few years back, controversy was stirred when a professional athlete once stated that he was not a role model. Unfortunately, this is not true for you. As a foster parent, you will be a role model for countless people, as many eyes will be upon you. Not only will you be a role model for your foster children, but for the public, as a whole. After all, not many in our society know what foster parenting or foster care is really about. If you are like me, your own friends and family members don’t even really know what you do. Gosh! I have written several books on foster care, have a radio show and a weekly video series, and have spoken to countless organizations. Yet, my own family doesn’t really appreciate what my wife and I do on a daily basis as foster parents. Continue reading

Growing Too Old: Aging out of Foster Care

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Each year, between 20,000 to 25,000 foster children age out of the system and attempt to begin life on their own.  Of the 500,000 children in care in the United States each year, this is a large number and disturbing percentage.   For many foster children, foster care is a temporary service before returning home to a parent, moving in with a biological family member, or even beginning a new life in an adopted home.  Yet, for thousands who do not find reunification with family in their lives, reaching 18 years of age can be a tremendously frightening experience.  For others, 21 is the year where they may find themselves no longer part of the foster care system, depending upon the state the foster children reside in. Continue reading

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