Chapter 15 – Caring Despite the Consequences- Parent Discussion

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Chapter 15 is all about the consequences of disobedience for a group of students, and originally I thought I’d write about that. However, after looking at the chapter again, I decided we will tackle that subject in another book and hit a different issue: what I’m calling the consequences of caring.

The first consequences we see in this chapter are that of caring for peers. Neville is the ultimate picture of a friend caring for their peers and reaping the repercussions. The poor guy just wants to keep his classmates out of trouble and ends up right in it with them. This happens often in life, but I want to focus on a different type of caring for this parent discussion.

Emergency Care for a Child in Danger

While serving his punishment in the woods, Harry encounters very real danger and could have been facing imminent death, but Firenze swoops in to the rescue and takes Harry into his care. He takes him to safety and lets him know he’ll be safe now. This immediately made me think of what foster parents do, even more so when I read the reactions of Firenze’s peers. By caring for Harry, he pitted himself against the other centaurs. They were repulsed by his actions for they did not mingle in the affairs of humans. The words Bane spoke to Firenze angered Firenze, but I wonder if they also made him second guess himself later. Ronan says, “I’m sure Firenze thought he was acting for the best,” to which Bane replies,  “For the best! What is that to do with us?” His questions and attitude brought to mind so many questions foster and adoptive parents hear:

  • Don’t you want kids of your own?
  • Why don’t you try in vitro?

While in process of getting our foster parent license, we told a family friend about our endeavors. His reaction surprised us but you might be able to relate:

“But… You’re the ideal couple. Why would you do something like this?”

He went on to tell us about horror stories he had heard from other people adopting. Tales of biting, incarceration and physical brutality.

We have other stories that you might be able to relate to. Our family has experienced the beginning stages of forming a friendship with another family. However, when people discover that our kids have been through the foster system, we don’t get asked to go to BBQs anymore and our invites go unanswered.

Now, I do want to make it clear that we do have some great and supportive people in our lives. We have also joined a fantastic support group for foster and adoptive families through Harmony. However, there is still the feeling of having the public verbally praising you for your “heroic” efforts but keeping their distance like you have the plague.

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. Why do you think Firenze chose to help Harry?
  2. Why do you continue to foster?
    (We’ve asked this before but it helps to revisit this question multiple times and solidify your thoughts and motivations.)
  3. Do you feel like an outsider since you have begun your adoptive/foster journey? When? How?

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Parents’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Kids’ Discussions:
Ch. 01
| Ch. 02Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Chapter 14 – Are You Seeing Things Correctly? – Kids’ Discussion

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Another chapter that is full of happenings.

  • Hermione is driving Harry and Ron crazy about studying for exams.
  • All three kids want to know what Snape is up to.
  • Everyone is curious about how to get past Fluffy and the other enchantments.
  • Hagrid has a dragon egg!

After reading this chapter, our family began a discussion on the dragon egg story. We all found it interesting how Hagrid treated the dragon. What did you notice about Hagrid’s care for the dragon?

Here’s what our adopted kiddos noted about the dragon as a pet – reality:

  • Norbert is going to be way too big for a home.
  • Dragons bite and their bites are quite dangerous.
  • A dragon could burn your home to the ground.
  • Baby dragons seem to be independent – they can take care of themselves.

However, the kids noted this about Hagrid:

  • Hagrid desperately wanted a dragon and ignored the dangers to get what he very much wanted in life.
  • Hagrid treated the dragon as if it were helpless – like a baby human.

As we read about the situation with Norbert the baby dragon, there was a lot of laughing and jaws dropping in surprise. The whole situation just seems comical and ridiculous. One of my kids asked, “Why can’t he see what is really happening?”

This brought us to a conversation about how we all do the same thing. The kids had to think for a bit about this one. They just didn’t think there was any way that they could be like Hagrid. We do it all the time though in everyday life and with special foster care circumstances.

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Foster/Adoptive Specific:

  • My daughter told us that she believed that being put into foster care was her fault. She thought at first that if she could just behave long enough she would get to return to her biological home. She saw the situation like Hagrid. She now says that she knows she couldn’t stay at her home because her mom couldn’t take care of her properly. In fact it was dangerous.
  • My middle son explained that he had no clue what was happening when he went into foster care. He just saw the situation as adults doing mean things to him. In fact he thought his whole life was going to be a series of moves from one foster home to another. To him adoption was just something that the adults told him about but was not something that was really going to happen. Now he understands that caseworkers really were trying to keep him safe, they were searching for an adoptive home for him, and his biological home just was not safe.

Everyday Life:

  • My youngest son doesn’t like to brush his teeth. Can you relate to that? He brushes as fast as he can without hitting all the teeth with the brush. He only brushes his teeth so that mom and dad don’t get upset. He sees brushing teeth as a way of avoiding getting into trouble. The reality is he needs to brush his teeth so his teeth won’t get cavities and decay.
  • One of our kids doesn’t like to read – A LOT. Dad has required a chapter of reading from this person every night or else that person has to pay a dollar from their allowance. This kiddo sees reading as a possible way to lose money. In reality if this child doesn’t improve their reading, when it comes time, the school will not let them get a learner’s permit to drive. It will also affect what kind of job they will get in the future.

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IMPORTANT LESSON:

We learned in this chapter that even though Hagrid was seeing things in an odd way, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were not going to be able to change his mind. Why?! Hagrid really, really, REALY wanted a dragon and did not want to see reality. The trio wanted to keep their friend out of trouble, BUT it was not their responsibility.

As kids, you see adults and your friends do strange things all the time. It’s not up to you to help adults or friends to change their strange behavior. You are responsible for YOU. Foster kids want their biological parents to change so they can go home. Adopted kids (even our kiddos) want to go back and help their biological parents. However, my kids agree that until a person wants to change, they are NOT going to change. In some circumstances, they can’t change. There could be mental health or physical problems that keep them from being able to change their behavior.

You can show a morbidly obese person how to eat healthy, but you can’t teach someone born without legs how to walk.

It’s Normal to want Normal

At the end of our conversation about Chapter 14, my oldest son offered this thought. He explained that he really loved his adopted family. However, he really would like to be back in his biological home. He knows that there are good reasons for him being in his adoptive family, but he wishes that the issues were not there. All the kids agreed with him. It’s normal to want to live with the family you were born into. However, he is still glad for the family he has now.

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. What would be the scariest thing about owning a dragon for you?
  2. Is there a chore that you don’t like to do? Why do you have to do it?
  3. If you’re an adopted/foster child, why were you put into foster care?
  4. What did you learn from this chapter?

Help Other Kids and Families:

Share your ideas and thoughts about this blog in the comments below. Your comments and opinions will help other families as they discuss this topic in their own house.

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Kids’ Discussions:
Ch. 01
| Ch. 02Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Parents’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Chapter 7 – Parent Discussion – I’m the Parent. I’m Responsible All the Time.

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Harry Potter is at Hogwarts and getting sorted into his house. The teachers and head students are getting everyone settled into the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin houses. The chapter focuses on the students and specifically Harry’s anxiety and emotions surrounding his introduction to his new school. If you read the kids’ discussion that coordinates with the chapter of the Sorcerer’s Stone, you know that the Fink kids chose to talk to other foster/adoptive kids about the first night in a new home. Again… a lot of emphasis is placed on the fears of the kids in this situation. What does it look like for the adoptive/foster parents during the first night?

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My wife, Margie, recalls the whole situation and relays this thought to me. She remembers being an elementary school teacher and being nervous about the first day of school. Oh sure, there was excitement in the air too. However, there is a lot of responsibility in caring for someone else’s child for the majority of the day. There can be numerous personality and behavior obstacles in addition to academic obstacles to overcome. Courage came in knowing that the FULL responsibility did not lay on her shoulders, and that children would go home to their caregivers at the end of the school day.

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Our first foster placement had similar emotions. Margie and I (Darren) were overjoyed to be welcoming two kiddos into our home. We had activities and toys ready to be introduced to them and had a special dinner in the works. In contrast to the positive emotions, there were some major butterflies in both of our stomachs. This would not be like our teaching experiences. We have never had our own biological children, but I imagine these jitters are the same as parents expecting a new baby. You keep asking yourself, “Am I really ready for this responsibility?”
The children were dropped off by their caseworker, who had to run off to her next appointment. We were suddenly thrust into parenthood without any information about these two new strangers in our home. However, the afternoon and evening went quite nicely and then the night came.

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We congratulated ourselves on a great day and for getting everyone to bed successfully. Now we had to figure out how to get kids into daycare when we didn’t have any information on the kids like last names or birth dates – the 5 year old didn’t know her social security number – imagine that! We had to discuss and plan how to deal with the experiences the kids were exposed to in their home. We had to think about getting one kiddo to a specialist for a rare genetic disease. All the while we are talking about logistics there is the same fear and question, “Are we really ready for this?”

In the midst of those fears we hear a blood curdling scream from a bedroom. I race to the room where the yelling is originating to see a child thrashing in bed. I hold the child in my arms and assure them everything is alright. Even though they have awoken, they continue to scream as though I should be seeing a dagger coming form their belly. Finally, the screaming stopped, and the child went back to sleep. That was my first introduction to night terrors.

I would like to report that like Harry, things were completely wonderful the next day. It was actually the beginning of a slow trial by fire through the foster care system that was worth the journey.

What Would We Do Differently?

  • Take the week off work – even if we could have worked out the details with daycare, I think any foster/adoptive parent needs AT LEAST one week of uninterrupted bonding time.
  • Become a hermit – Most people immediately want their friends to meet the new child. Don’t do it! For AT LEAST a week just keep it down to the immediate family. The bonding time with the new child is huge.
  • Simple, not special – Do whatever you can to simplify the first week with the new child. Instead of thinking of special meals, plan ahead of time to make frozen dinners that just have to be heated at home (don’t eat out because that violates the previous suggestion).
  • Set the bar low – Do not assume that you are going to be super mom/dad. Simply assume that you’re going to get to know the new child better. If you learn something new about them for the day, it was a successful day, and you need to celebrate. Don’t belittle the small victories.

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. Seasoned Foster/Adoptive Parents:
    • Comment below on your first night experience with your child.
    • Use the comment section below to give people who are thinking about adopting/fostering advice for preparing for a child.
    • Share any thoughts or ideas that you had about this chapter.
  2. Pre-foster or Pre-adoptive Parents:
    • Use the comment section below to share some of the fears and questions you have.
    • How are you planning to get the most bonding time with your new child the first week?
    • What do you think about the idea of becoming a hermit for AT LEAST a week with your immediate family?
    • Share any thoughts or ideas that you had about this chapter below.

 

Parents’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Kids’ Discussions:
Ch. 01
| Ch. 02Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17