A Foster- Adoptive Family Under Construction

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The last few weeks our home has been in complete disarray as construction is taking place in several rooms, upsetting the rest of the house with belongings and furniture out of place along with building materials and dust. We’ve also had house guests pretty well the whole time. (That was NOT in the plans!) The projects have been delayed by “a series of unfortunate events,” as all construction projects seem to be, and we’ve had to roll with the punches. We’ve lived in construction before, but mostly BEFORE kids and without house guests and in a much larger home with more space! We’re easy-going people, and we adjust and move on. It’ll all be worth it in the end when we have a home that’s more functional for our large family.

“I want people to know this is not how we normally live and this is not what our house is becoming.”

As easy-going as we are to the process of construction, some may say I am a neat freak, a perfectionist, and I don’t always function well in chaos. I feel the need to tell anyone who walks through the door that things aren’t normally like this, ESPECIALLY our new licensing worker as we are working to get licensed for foster care for the first time as Tennessee residents. (Yeah, unfortunately moving across state lines means you start that process all over.) Indeed, I feel a compulsive urge to hang signs proclaiming “under construction” around our home. I want people to know this is not how we normally live and this is not what our house is becoming. This is temporary as we work towards something better.

Last night I fell asleep thinking about how this parallels our life as a foster and adoptive family. I have often felt an urge to hang signs from our family stating our status as “under construction.” Even as the construction has been going on in our home, as a family we have had to face some pretty ugly issues that have surfaced from one child’s past as behavior which has hurt others dear to us. We have been heart-broken for the others involved, for our child, and even ourselves. I want others to know that this child has been damaged by other people in life. This damage has taken the child down to being bare, ripping off the drywall, cutting up wiring, and tearing up the carpet. This child is not living life as in a normal home. Trauma has caused the brain to be rewired and the child to think, learn, sleep, eat, interact with others, and all other functions of life differently than a typically developing child.

“As we live life, we might feel compelled to hang signs around our children’s necks declaring that they are under construction, that the damage was not done by us, nor is it the children’s fault.”

Our children’s lives are truly under a complete and total renovation. The original designs and architecture of their development have been destroyed as in a natural disaster, whether it be a flood, volcano, earthquake, fire, or tornado (death, loss, neglect or abuse–physical or sexual). As we live life, we might feel compelled to hang signs around our children’s necks declaring that they are under construction, that the damage was not done by us, nor is it the children’s fault. As foster or adoptive parents we are building new brain connections, relationships, behaviors, coping mechanisms, and more! We may have to outsource plumbing or electrical to experts in those or other fields. We may not feel competent to do certain aspects of the job like finishing drywall or laying tile. We sometimes even have to keep others out in order keep them or our child safe.

Many people are unwilling to live in a home while it is under construction, as others may be unwilling or unable to be a part of our family’s lives during the process. Living life as a foster or adoptive family is not easy, but we have a vision, a vision of life renovated, reconstructed. How beautiful we hope it will be in the future!

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