A Look at the Dream
What did you dream about when you wanted to adopt or foster children? We found that it would be a miracle of God for us to have children naturally. No worries. We had a passion to give children a home who were without.
We had dreams of playing board games before bedtime while eating chocolate chip cookies that we all made together. We would end the day with laughter over a bedtime story before doing prayers at bedtime. We knew the kids would have fun with us as we are both artsy people who love to learn, play, and travel. It wasn’t going to be the Brady Bunch, but we knew that we would all have fun.
A Look at Reality
Imagine our [foster-adoptive parents’] surprise and bewilderment when the evening actually looked more like one or more of the following:
- being fearful the neighbors would call the police during a child’s three-hour, ear-splitting, screaming meltdown over something trivial
- finding young children engaging in behaviors that let’s just say are supposed to be only for consenting adults
- a child having to slather themselves with lotion and vaseline and wear a cotton undershirt under a cotton t-shirt made of the exact same material because the t-shirt made them itch
- finding hordes of empty food wrappers and containers hidden in a child’s bed and the mattress stained with food (holes torn in the mattress cover), the bed frame filled with crumbs
- [insert some other equally perplexing or “abnormal” behavior]
Instead of thriving, you find yourselves just trying to survive. Your world has been turned upside down. One of Margie’s favorite blogs is entitled “I Used to Be a Good Mom” by Lisa Qualls. She took the words right out of my mouth when she describes failing to handle a situation well or in the way she wanted and becoming someone she didn’t want to be. You find yourself redefining your dreams and expectations and developing a new “normal.”
Accept and Forgive… Yourself
One thing that is common within the adoptive/foster care community is that as a parent you might find (if you’re real honest) that there are days you don’t even like your child(ren). You love them, but you don’t like them. Isn’t that the first lesson in parenthood? – Parents like their kids no matter what. This leads to tremendous guilt because “good” parents like AND love their kids. However, can we I relay some bold advice to you that we have heard? Accept that you don’t like your child(ren) at the moment. Accept that your family life doesn’t look like you had hoped. Accept that you might be doing it all wrong. Now, forgive yourself.
- How is your life different than what you dreamed since bringing a child(ren) into your home through foster care, adoption, kinship, or guardianship?
- What are the things you are doing “wrong” that you need to accept? Can you forgive yourself?
- We found it helpful to be in a community of people where our home lives were ‘normal,’ or as we like to say ‘abnormally normal.’ Have you found some people to talk to and hang out with who are traveling a similar journey? If not, how can you make this a priority?
- Equally as helpful for parents who have never had a biological child is knowing seasoned parents who can help you differentiate normal developmental behaviors from those that may be the result of past or current trauma. Who are the seasoned parents you can trust to talk to? NOTE: These are not the people that blow you off with “All kids do that,” but who can truly listen and understand that a three-hour screaming meltdown is probably not the same thing as a typical child’s tantrum, especially at 6 years old.
- Do you need to seek professional help for your family?
Let’s Hear from You:
If this has helped you, leave a comment below or share your questions.