Monday, October 6, 2014

When We Tried To Adopt A Boy In Foster Care - Part 1

This is a bit of a rewind post. Lots of friends and family have been asking me for an update on our efforts to adopt a boy in Foster care the last year +. This is my attempt to update and document it for myself, too!
August 2013. 

 I happen upon a video on KSL.com for the weekly "Wednesdays Child”. This is a child that has been in foster care and needs to be adopted and have a permanent home. I have seen this program every Wednesday in Utah since I was a child. Every time I see the videos, I feel feelings of sadness and hope that the child will find the right home for them and that the family will fall in love with that child. But I’ve never felt the need personally to actually call about someone, or be a foster parent, or adopt a child.
Until today.



I was not prepared for this. This day in August that hit me like a ton of bricks. This video. This boy that looked so much like my other kids. Dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes…so much like my 13-year old son Brandon. This boy that looked like my kids yet had no family. This boy who had “never been a part of anything. That’s my biggest dream is to be adopted - to be a part of a family.”

Such a simple thing, that every child has a right to.

My heart was breaking for him. He deserves a family who loves him. The video wasn't even halfway over until I started to get goosebumps. My heart was racing for unexplained reasons. Thoughts. Big thoughts. Thoughts like, WAIT. This boy is my responsibility. And – how has he not been in our family this whole time? Thoughts like, I'm not sure how to adopt a kid – but I need to make this right and get this boy in my house where he belongs.

At the end of the video – they said a number. I immediately picked up my phone and started to dial 801 –…

I stopped myself. “What the HECK. Get back to work, you’re being riduculous” I thought. I tried to brush off the feelings as I got back to work.

A few minutes later I see a post on Facebook from a trusted friend and prior colleague that works at KSL:

“I just met the most amazing teenage boy Brian. He is in foster care and is today’s Wednesday’s child. Please, if you have room in your heart, your home, call this number. I just loved him!”

BOOM.

My heart pounds harder. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is. Now the initial strong feeling turns into action. I knew at that moment I absolutely had to do something and try my best to give this kid a chance he so deserved. I have every feeling in the world that he would be an amazing addition to our family. Especially with two other teenage boys that I am certain would love to have another. Brian's countenance and attitude and personality looked so amazing. It just struck a major chord with me.

I start to dial the number again.

"WAIT – my husband. Right. I'm going to need him on my bus if I'm going to bring a new boy into this family. I stopped, and dialed his number instead. He answers.

“You’re going to think I’m crazy, but…. (the intro to many of my phone calls…) I am emailing you a video. I want to hear your reaction while you watch it. At the end – I hear "so I guess you should at least call and see what it would take........”

He wasn't even halfway finished with the word take and I was dialing the phone number they advertised on television.

"Utah Adoption Center, can I help you?"

"Yes – I just saw a boy on KSL named Brian. What is it going to take to adopt this boy?”

"Oh sweetie – you mean Brian?"

“Well yes… that is the name that they said on television. Is that not his real name?"

"Oh, it's his real name, darling – but you need to understand – Brian has been “in the system” for a really long time. Are you sure you want to adopt him? Most people don't want to adopt teenage boys.”

"Why else would you put him on Wednesday’s Child on KSL then? This boy needs a family and a home and I have both. And, he is mine".

“Oh sweetie – again, Brian has been around for a really long time……."

"I suppose that attitude is exactly the reason why, then – they advertise them on television yet they talk you out of it the second you call and before you even get started? That makes no sense, so what is it about him that you are concerned about?”

Lady stalling, confused at my passion and intensity. "Oh it's all confidential I certainly can't say. But perhaps one day you'll understand. There's a reason people don't typically adopt teenage boys. Perhaps you'll soon understand..."

“I think the reason is probably this type of attitude. There are only three things that I would never be able to tolerate. Gang activity, white drug abuse, and sexual abuse of a child. Are any of these things a factor? If so, save me and you both the time. But meanwhile – every pore in my soul tells me this boy is ours and he needs to know that somebody cares about him and wants him in their family. Tell me what you know about him."

"Oh sweetie, its confidential. I can't. Perhaps if you get to the point of being able to talk to his caseworker, you can find out a little more, but – until then, you need to start with the Foster Care Foundation. "

Call to the Foster Care Foundation.

I learn it could take up to a YEAR if it even works out. Up to three months for the paperwork, then foster care classes, and then the adoption could take up to nine months before we even get to meet him in person. I have no idea why it has to take so long, but I am still hopeful and I want to give this boy an awesome family and a chance at a great life that he so deserves.

The lady who answers listens to my story and after telling me those general timelines, says she will call me back in a few weeks to schedule a time to come visit our family and take the first steps.

Me: “A few weeks? Why a few weeks?”

“Uhhh, well it’s just how we normally do it.”

“Oh, ok. I don’t do anything normal. So how about TOMORROW.”

...to be continued….

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Confessions of an entrepreneur - six years in.

Last week I drove home from Steals.com at 1:30am, for the third night in a row. As I tried to keep my eyes open from lack of sleep and mental fatigue, I reflected on lessons I've learned the last six years while building my own company. Here is some of what I've learned - besides the obvious "I had no idea it would be this hard."

I've learned that since you're the boss and you're not able to share your feelings about particular situations with people anymore, that is quite often a very lonely feeling.

I've learned that people look at the life of an entrepreneur and think they want that for themselves, but they don't understand the risk and hard work that really comes with it.

I've learned that it makes you feel like you're being taken advantage of when employees take your company (and their jobs) for granted. Don't they know this started from nothing? I've also learned to quickly eliminate those that feel that way.

I've learned how difficult it is to read between the lines when people tell you what you want to hear, not what is accurate. You're the boss now, and you'll unlikely get the whole story or the full truth.

I've learned that it is very easy to critique your boss. But when you become one – you are finally able to relate to decisions you've seen your old bosses make in the past that you judged at the time.

I've learned that being an expert at a task doesn't mean that person will be good at managing people that do that task.

I've learned to never hire employees that need to be told what to do on a daily basis – unless their job is repetitive and easy to train for.

I've learned that there is a fine balance between creating process and structure, and fostering innovation.

I've learned that no matter the level of experience or college degree - it's often beat by hard work, passion and desire to win.

I've learned that smaller groups get more accomplished.

I've learned that sometimes people spend more time searching for answers than solving problems.

I've learned that firing someone is one of the hardest things in business to do. However, it can be a gift you give them – to move on to something that is a better fit for them.

I've learned that laying someone off is even harder - because they didn't necessarily do anything wrong.

I've learned that companies are teams, not families. You can't pick your family and you're stuck with them regardless. A team gets to pick who's on it, and holds each other accountable for their spot in the team.

I've learned that there's a lot more going on than meets the eye and when people judge your decision, they don't know what other data you had to consider when making that decision.

I've learned to manage people to their strengths rather than penalize them for their weaknesses.

I've learned it's a lot more fun to build a company than manage one.

I've learned that just because you hire more people doesn't mean you will get more things done faster.

I've learned adding more people sometimes just adds to the complication, not the efficiency.

I've learned that it's impossible to eliminate bureaucracy as the company gets bigger, even with the best intentions.

I've learned that there is as much reward seeing someone on your team reach their goals as it is to reach your own. And ironically, they're the same.

I've learned that no matter how professional I become, I am still affected emotionally by things that happen.

I've learned that when you're emotionally invested, it's hard not to take it personally.

I've learned that when running your own business there are amazing days, and there are terrible days. Each one makes up for the other. There are very few average days.

I've learned that many things you have to do in business have nothing to do with the business itself.

I've learned that just because you are busy, doesn't mean you're accomplishing anything.

I've learned that until you've been an entrepreneur, you'll never understand what it's like to be one.

I've learned that you have to make a tremendous amount of decisions every day.

I've learned that when money is no longer an object, you realize it was never the object in the first place.

I've learned that people do not get put into roles, they create a career for themselves.

I've learned the business is not about your income. It is about the outcome. If the outcome is good, everything else will fall into place.

I've learned that entrepreneurs only see opportunity. Not roadblocks.

I've learned that sometimes people use these roadblocks as excuses.

I've learned that being successful does not make you popular.

I've learned that you have to refuel your pump because no one will do it for you. People assume since you are the leader that you have all the fuel you need. Note again the lonely comment above.

I've learned that leadership has more to do with instilling confidence and setting direction instead of telling exactly what to do.

I've learned that everything you do becomes a reflection of your company. You are the brand.

I've learned that no matter what – unless it is your company it is not possible to care about it the way you do. Kind of like your kids.

I've learned that it's impossible to satisfy everyone at the same time.


I've learned that people assume that since you're an entrepreneur you can work whenever, wherever you want. Reality is - you get to choose which 90 hours of the week to work.

I've learned that humans are influenced by irrational behavior of others. Just because someone said it or read it, doesn't mean it's accurate. You can't believe everything you hear, or read on the Internet.

I've learned that the more you do, the more that is expected of you.


I've learned that a good attitude, positivity, raw talent and hard work go much further with me than an impressive resume. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

I've learned that an impressive resume only helps an entrepreneur if it's coupled with ferocious tenacity, laser focused dedication, courage, hard work, a can-do attitude and really good gut-feelings.

I've learned a lot - and clearly I have much more to learn as I continue down this journey of entrepreneurship and building a company. Hopefully these lessons can be of value to other entrepreneurs along their journeys.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Interview by NPR in Utah

I was interviewed at KCPW - NPR in Utah for "The Bottom Line".  I hadn't met anyone there yet and didn't know what they were going to ask me. I was blown away by how prepared for the interview they were. I was nervous but it was fun!  
Click here to listen: 

Friday, June 27, 2014

GIVEAWAY for Calgary!

UPDATE: The winner is selected!

Hello my friends from #yyc! 

Here is the giveaway I promised last night in my video to you!

A one-of-a-kind Jana 1.0 Diaper Bag by The Bumble Collection in Buttercup Bliss! You will be the only one in the world with one of these babies! Value: $99


HERE IT IS - ENTER HERE!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about and have a spare 8 minutes, here is the video:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Spring Break segment on ABC 4 Utah

How to connect with me

Someone gave me some flack today for not updating my blog in a long time. Holy smokes - I've been BUSY! Somehow the psychology of posting events anywhere - on any social media - fills the mental need of having "said it". This last year has been the hardest of my life. I am not even sure exactly where to start updating. Perhaps I'll work on a quick post about some highlights and lowlights of the past year to post in a few days. While I promise to work on some new posts, here are the additional places you can connect with me and how I use it:

Personal Facebook - I leave this to people I've met (and know) in person
Work Facebook - I love to connect with anyone here that wants to know the inside scoop at STEALS.com. For some people, it's both FB accounts since I try not to talk too much about work to my personal friends.
LinkedIn - I pretty much only connect with people I have met in person here, too. Isn't that the point of LinkedIn?
Twitter - Whatever is on my mind at the time - most often about business or things I want to be searchable on Twitter.
Instagram - Pictures I take that I think are cool.
Pinterest - Stuff I think is cool.
G+ - mostly youtube and work stuff.
Youtube  - some personal, some work videos.

Off to prep for a TV segment - I have two next week!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A note to restaurant marketers

Apparently to a six year-old, restaurants have little to do with the food and more to do with the little "extras." Marketing at it's best. <----biased marketer.

Jane says:

"I love Wingers, it's my favorite restaurant. Because they have popcorn."

"I love Red Rock, because they have good pizza."

"I love Olive Garden, because they have mint chocolates at the end."

"I love Thai Garden, because they have big fish in the tank."

"I love Applebees, because they have crayons and coloring papers."

"I love Texas Roadhouse, because they let you throw your peanut shells on the ground!"

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Our speech at Utah State University's Entrepreneur Leadership Speaker Series

Recently +Rett Clevenger and I spoke at the John M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University to kick off their Entrepreneur Leadership Series. It was the first time we had spoken in public together - and the first time we'd talked about our Entrepreneurship in public. Go easy on us :)





Sunday, April 14, 2013

KSL TV segment - spring fashion trends for kids

I was back at my old stomping grounds (job before starting STEALS.com) talking about Spring Fashion Trends for kids.

Sorry about the intro ad - it's on their side.



In a nutshell, some of the hot colors are sunshine yellows, emerald greens, and poppy reds. Bright and bold. Styles are flower power, urban cool, and big graphic prints on shirts.

 It's always so fun going back to KSL - I love seeing my friends there!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kinda Funny

Someone just sent me these and it made me LOL! 




Monday, March 26, 2012

A slice of Steal Network history.

Just over four years ago...

...dreams can come true, people. You just gotta make it happen.

From: Jana Francis 
Date: Sun, Feb 10, 2008 at 10:10 PM
Subject: Website
To: Emily Millard


Hi Emily!

How are you? Are you working at Simmons? I am writing to see if you do freelance websites. I am still at KSL but I am starting my own Internet company this year. On nights and weekends I am working on it and hope to be able to work on it full-time sometime this year. I have told no one at work.

It is a very exciting concept and I am hoping to launch the website by the end of March. The main company will probably be called Steals, Inc. and the first website I’ll launch will be www.babysteals.com. Right now if you go there, I just redirected it to blogspot where I have a write-up about it. I think you will like it!

The past few weeks I have been researching how to build the website – I have almost signed up with Network Solutions ecommerce and Yahoo has one, too. But the templates they have available although customizable, aren’t what I want. I just downloaded Dreamweaver and it’s all greek to me!

Anyway, before I bore you to death with all my chatter, I am wondering if you do any freelance work. If so, let’s discuss! I’ll give you an idea of what I need to have done and we can chat about it.

If all goes well, in a year or so I’ll have quite the company going!

Feel free to call me on my cell phone or email me back! 

Jana

Monday, March 19, 2012

ProBar Giveaway Winner!

...and the winner is... commenter #4 - Kristina!

Blogger Kristina said...

Nutty marshmallow all the way.

Congrats, Kristina, look for an email from me!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

ProBar Giveaway!



I'm one of ProBar's sponsored mom athletes and I wanted to share with you my love for ProBars! They're the perfect whole-food replacement bar.


They go with me skiing, to work, anywhere I'm on the go and have saved me from that 'starving' feeling many times! My boys love them too - they don't last long around our house. They don't last long around Steal Network either - many a time staff will come to my office door asking, "Do you happen to have any ProBars on you?"












Have you ever tried the HALO bars? My favorite is Nutty Marshmallow. mmmmm......

To share my love for them, I'm giving away two boxes of 12 each worth over $55! 12 HALO bars and 12 ProBar whole food meal bars. Yum!

To enter, visit ProBar's site and come back here and leave a comment on what flavor you think would be your favorite (or is your favorite, if you've tried them!)


Winner picked via random.org on 3/18 at 9pm MST and announced on 3/19! Good luck!

***Update: Contest closed***


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