So when we are children and we imagine our lives it is usually much different than what it ends up being. I know I was going to have tons of children and be a teacher. Well I went to college for special ed and elementary ed and discovered I HATED it. It was not the path I really wanted. Went to school for nursing and loved it but began my journey as a foster and adoptive parent and due to my children’s needs I had to kind of de-rail that one for a while. The tons of children…well God had other plans there too.
When my husband and I met it just seemed so perfect. We both were so wanting a large family. We were both ready to start our family right away and had no idea that there would ever be an issue with starting said family. I guess we were under this mistaken idea that if we wanted it it would just happen. As it became apparent that this family wasn’t just going to magically happen we started looking at what our choices were. We went the whole fertility medication route but soon became sure that we needed to look at other ways to grow our family. We had discussed adoption before. My brother is adopted and so are many of my close friends so we were in no way against this. We did feel as though if we were looking at that we would be most interested in children in foster care who were not able to return home. At the beginning we did not think we would be interested so much in fostering but only in adopting. Soon we learned that we really did enjoy fostering and wanted to help children to get home. So we did end up doing both fostering and adopting.
I know there was a lot of talk about what the children would need while in care but really I don’t remember any discussion on what type of parents were needed for these children. I have now formed my own opinion on this (okay everyone feel free to ignore it but it is what I feel is true from years of working with families).
In order to raise children who are usually coming into your home with baggage and I mean Baggage with a capital B. These children have been through a lot. Their families have been through a lot. So now what skills do the parents need to have? Okay well if you are going to foster or adopt these kids you need to know that you have to be very FLEXIBLE. Not a door mat oh no you must be strong but able to bend like the sapling in a strong storm. You are holding on but you are bending when needed not against the storm but with it. So now you are FLEXIBLE and STRONG. What else? Okay you have to be a very emotionally healthy person! If you are working with your own baggage you will not be able to deal with someone else’s stuff in a positive and healthy manner.
I know that the main thing that is needed is a very good sense of HUMOR! If you cannot learn to laugh about it well you will fall apart. So I am not saying laugh at all behavior but sometimes you have to laugh a bit at yourself and certain situations. I remember the day that my first 3 children were diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). I had to find a way to find the good in it. Okay so here is the good. We are the right home. We can work with this and help them to move forward in the best way possible. The same as when we first learned of Reactive Attachment Disorder and with all of the other issues that have come up. We know we can love our children no matter what comes. We know that while we may have the days of mourning certain things will come we also know we can pick ourselves up and move forward with a smile on our faces. We have a strong marriage, we have a very important faith and we have our children who will love forever. We will see them through the good and the bad with smiles on our faces. Maybe not every day but enough to count.
So when people ask I have to say that this journey is not for the faint of heart. You have to know yourself. You have to know that you can be a positive person most of the time and that you can put yourself aside to make sure that your children’s needs are met (but I think that is true of all parents.) You have to know that you will make it through to the other side with your smile still there and that your relationship will be as important after as it is before. So there are still a lot of kids waiting. Just make sure you go in with eyes and heart wide open. Don’t go in thinking that these are kids who can fill up your empty well of need…you will be filling theirs and they may never be able to return this to you. Can you love with no strings and no expectations?