This post was originally written March 2012, originally the third in a series of posts.
(Still vaguely responding to LT’s post at http://looneytunes09.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/why-do-people-adopt-hurt-kids/).
I want to expound a little more. These are probably more random thoughts than anything though.
First, I want to be honest that my primary reason for considering adoption originally was “selfish.” I wanted to be a parent some more. I wanted children. I wanted to parent. I want all the joys that come with parenting. I was, of course, aware, that parenting isn’t all easy and wonderful and joyful all the time. I also knew that kids aren’t perfect from the get-go and that they’ll have their own opinions, experience, fears, hurts, etc as they go on. However, I also knew *I* wasn’t perfect.
When we went into fostering though unsure if we would adopt. We waffled a lot. First, it seemed we could help a lot more children if we just fostered. Many kids would go home anyway and it’d be great that other people could adopt the kids we’ve gotten to enjoy temporarily. However, though we entertained those thoughts, we really did still desire to grow our own family. Fostering seemed like a way to do it. We could, in essence, do both: help children and families who needed the help and build our family when it didn’t work out in birth families.
Well, the first two kids, we knew would go home.
The second set we knew weren’t going to parents, but we figured they would go to family members. But then that didn’t look too likely either. Then came some thinking. We absolutely fell in love with them. The thought of letting them go was miserable. Add that we thought it the worst thing ever for them to have another disruption in their lives. Is love enough? Their issues seemed mighty tough. They had been through a lot. The had behaviors because of that. We have had some moments of wondering if we were best for them. We also went through moments of guessing what would happen if they left.
In time, the love won out. Fact is, we are willing to keep trying and trying. We may not be perfect, but we will try. We’ll learn better and better. We will make mistakes and that will probably be good for them also. IF we aren’t perfect, they won’t have to be either. ANd when people make mistakes, they try to learn from them. And if we made their lives absolutely perfect, they’d end up fragile. So we’ll do the best we can, aim for even better, but appreciate our human-ness also.
And we’ll grow together, right? I have already had to work through some things I thought I was past. I get to work on my character traits. I’ll get to practice the fruitage of the spirit. I’ll gain all the qualities that go along with love (long-suffering, patience, kindness, etc).
So, realistically, we have some challenges now and in the future. Will they be fixed? I can’t say. And sometimes, I think it is okay if some of them don’t or don’t for awhile.
So, it may be difficult to deal with a 3 or 5 or 7 year old who poops in his pants. It certainly isn’t pleasant. But what if it doesn’t stop until 9 or 11 or 15? Will that ruin our lives? I just don’t think so. I don’t *want* any of them to wait so long. I wish they all would stop yesterday; but I don’t think it is worthy of too much worry. It is very unlikely they will be working at an assembly plant one day and their coworkers catch them with poopy pants. It will stop eventually. Or they’ll find a way to deal with it. But in the mean time, maybe we would be a lot more successful helping them more significantly if we work to help them feel comfortable, confident, and capable. We can try to learn more appropriate options. And then the kids can make their own choices in their own timing as they heal. If it takes 15 years, it does.
Certain behaviors are a bit more worrisome, usually because they are scary or the consequences so dire. But again, would it ruin our lives? Not most of them and we’ll do our best to prevent the ones that could really wreak havok. It means we have stricter supervision. I have heard people say and read people online that say they could never live “like that” with some of the measures we have in place. I think they are wrong. They *could* if they felt it necessary to help the ones they love. It means we have to learn more ways to help our kids heal, to discipline, to show love for them for who they are regardless.
But I think people, when they think of foster kids, get hung up on these things. Sure, they take up some time and effort, many times A LOT of time and effort. I spend a good deal of time documenting these things as well as reading books, talking to other parents, working on therapies, etc. I am determined to not hurt the children more by my responses. I am determined to help them to the best of my ability (and keep reaching for the next ability level).
What people don’t think about are the opportunities. So many times, I’ve looked back on old posts and though, “Oh goodness, she doesn’t do that anymore!” Or I think back and remember that a year ago, he couldn’t do that. I watch them grow, mature, heal. Sometimes it is very slow progress. Other times it is more significant. It can be something more superficial or something more important. But I wish we could look at those things more. Maybe it is the first real hug or being an inch taller. Maybe it is accepting redirection or stopping thumb sucking. Or maybe it is cooking a meal or getting an B in math. Maybe it is the smile in the photo of her in the wildflowers or the first time he makes a goal. Maybe it is not needing to cut himself or him being able to say, “I love you.” Maybe it is the first school dance or the first Bible verse memorized. Maybe it is the sweet thing she did for a sibling or the first time he doesn’t take the opportunity to hurt his brother. Of course, this list can go on forever. There are so many firsts I experienced with these children. There are so many hurts we’ve cried over. There are so many laughs we’ve had and will have. It is truly a beautiful thing.
Again, beautiful, but maybe not always easy. I think it is worth it. Maybe it will get very tough down the line. But I still think we’ll be able to look at the good stuff. If it proves to be challenging a couple years down the road, I’ll look at this post again. I’ll look at these posts again. I’ll look back at the weekly and monthly reports I make for them. I’ll make a list of blessings. I’ll make a list of progress. I’ll make a list of positive attributes. I’ll ask them for help if I have to. But I will focus on the positive as much as possible through the years.
As I am writing this, a commercial came on. It was showing some children being adopted out of foster care. “Every child needs a family.” Even the one neglected, starved, left in a carseat, deformed because of abuse, beaten severely, burned, sexually abused, drugged, sold out to strangers, scared beyond all belief, hurting himself, untrusting, and the list could go on unfortunately.
Children HAVE been hurt. They are still hurting. But they DO deserve families. And families could choose to step up and care for them. It may not always be easy. But it is a choice. And it is a choice that can bring great things to our (the children’s and parents’) lives.