System is Unfair to Parents

Okay, generally, I think that parental rights over the children’s needs is a huge problem in the child welfare system.  However, I recently had an experience that showed me how unfair it is to parents also.

We often hear about how parents are delusional, not taking responsibility, unable to comprehend what they’d done, etc.  However, it may be that the system has fed into that a good deal!  Here is an example of when this happened to two parents.

Meeting with approximately 23 people, parents included. Caseworker, lawyers, D.A., kinship workers, CASA, supervisors, foster parents, etc are also there. Children have been in care a couple months when this meeting took place. It is not believed these parents will ever get things together enough or keep it together in order to be able to parent.  Wording below is not exact.  Specific circumstances will be generalized.

Facilitator:  What is the date the children were taken into care?  Is that the date permanency is based upon?

Caseworker: Date in question.  Yes.

Facilitator:  What were the circumstances that led the children to be removed from the home?

Caseworker outlines domestic violence, extreme neglect and filth, concerns of specific abuses.

Facilitator: any previous cases with this family?

Caseworker: Yes.  There have been X cases including ____.  Caseworker outlines number of times children have been in care, kinship, have had home-based services as well as the reasons for these cases.

Facilitator: Have the parents been offered a caseplan?

Caseworker: yes (it is about this time that I wonder why the caseworker pauses three full seconds before answering each time).

Facilitator: Mom, what services have you completed.

Mom lists numerous things she’s taken care of (imo, impressive considering how short children have been in care).  Most things have not been finished, but basics have been started.  For example, she’s half-way through parenting classes and has gone back to counseling and for medication management.

Facilitator: Is there any services mom is not compliant with?

Caseworker states that she has addressed each item on the caseplan though she states a clarification to one item that seems to me probably doesn’t matter and can’t be held against Mom.

Facilitator asks dad the same question.

Dad is not nearly as concise as mom was, goes off a little in left field, is chastised by mother, does that for each caseplan area.

Facilitator again asks caseworker about compliance and Caseworker confirms he has addressed each thing.

Facilitator asks what the goal is.

Caseworker: Reunification with parents

Facilitator: Concurrent?

Caseworker: Adoption by a non-relative

Facilitator: Kinship?

Caseworker briefly discusses the failed kinship placement as well as that grandmother is involved but unable to take the children. Mention is made of DNA testing, a named father for one of the children, no other known possible family members at this time.

Facilitator: any known reasons why RU (reunification) will not occur?

Caseworker: not at this time

Facilitator asks foster parents about each child, basically wanting to know that all are up-t0-date on medical, dental, and immunizations as well as any special needs are being addressed.

Facilitator: When is the next court date?

Caseworker answers.

And that was that.  Discussion afterward among the parties is about how useless the meeting was.  They also discuss how that meeting makes it sound like there is no reason the children wouldn’t be returned shortly.  No wonder Mom thought it was possible before the end of the year!  She was redirected to think no sooner than Spring, but still!  I mean, if a parent thinks, “a case plan is a list of the things I must do adequately in order to have my children returned to me,” there is no wonder the parents may think they are getting their kids back sooner than possible!

Why would there not be things on their caseplan that detail what else they will be judged upon so they can try to address those things as well as have a more realistic view of why the children are not being returned at any given time (possibly ever).

I have had several cases that this has happened with now, including my children’s.  CPS had NO intention on working with the parents another time after the history.  They didn’t meet the requirements not to receive a caseplan. The caseplan included the basics they had done several times and didn’t include anything else the parents needed to prove. In their case, what really happened was that family quit enabling them and they were incapable of following through with the caseplan on their own in part due to poor choices.  But what if they had done it all (with or without help)?

I absolutely think parents should be given a chance or two.  It is best for children to be raised by their parents when possible.  However, multiple chances, case plans that aren’t realistic, etc seems like it just sets kids up to not have permanency year after year.  My kids had nine homes, eight cases, over five years before TPR (termination of parental rights).  Most kids I’ve had who have had TPR or headed that direction have either had extreme circumstances which suggested strongly that the parents would not be able to do enough or keep it up or multiple cases which backs that idea up.  And yet each has had a basic caseplan and official goal of RU.

Again, I just think it is unfair for the children to be in limbo and with the issues that come with it.  And I think it is unfair to the parents to have it suggested they just need to do XYZ to get their kids back when that obviously isn’t (and can’t be!) the case.   I also think that the options available to the department as well as the parents should be covered with the family occasionally.  But again, I think they need to have a fair case plan in the first place so they can more accurately see what is going on in the case in order to evaluate the options.

Just weird and in my opinion, wrong.

 

How Busy Are We?

I lost  half of this post and now it has been three extra weeks so I’m going to try to write this another way. Hopefully it gives the information I want to give 🙂

So three weeks ago, we got new kiddos.   Their official blog/board names are Professor (the 3yo boy), Doc (the 2yo girl) and Little Lamb (who turns 4 months next week).  So what is it like at the beginning of a placement?

First, obviously you have the children.  These ones seem so young, but being advanced probably actually makes it harder for them.  Where preverbal trauma of being removed from mom and dad may be worse in some ways, especially long term, it seems that children like these struggle the most because they can understand some aspects, but not enough to make sense of it.  They tend to be more verbal about it, more questioning, more anxious.  Or maybe it just seems that way because they can verbalize it.  But behaviorally, these kids also tend to be a bit tougher.  At least that is my experience so far.  Obviously comforting the children, giving them what they need, helping them the best we can is duty number one.

But unfortunately, in the first days, there is a TON of work to be done.  Let me outline some of that.

First, I have to put together folders for each child for all their documentation.  I start with placement papers and medical consenters.  I got a few other documents with these kids.  Some kids come with a lot. For example, I had a whole folder worth with my (now adopted) children.  Some kids come with court papers.  Others come with nothing extra.

When children come with medication, that has to be dealt with also.  Medication logs are printed out and filled out with pertinent information.  All I have to do is initial and put the time for each date for each medication after the paperwork is set up.

Whether they come with any items or not, inventory needs to be taken.  Most of the time, that means going shopping in order to have the minimum requirements of things like socks and shirts and pajamas. When kids come with a bunch of mis-matched stuff that doesn’t fit, it makes it a little tougher because all that has to be documented but they still need the minimum requirements of what they *can* wear.  So right away, you’re trying to give them a wardrobe and document it.

We also have to have, posted, a schedule and home rules for each child.  Now, of course, we have general rules such as “respect property” and “respect others,” even more detailed such as “use polite words” or whatever.  But for each child, there has to be personalized rules.  Well, except you’ve known the kids 24 hours at this point.  How do I know whether we need to focus on polite words or keeping hands to self?

Then there are appointments:

  • Placement exams are scheduled as soon as possible.  In these children’s case, I needed in to see the doctor regarding the one immediately because I was worried she was eating and breathing well enough!  Turns out there was a lot regarding that but we did beautifully.  Also, one child needed a “sick child” exam right away.  
  • Dental exams are also scheduled as soon as possible.  The baby won’t get hers until 6 months old.  The 2yo will have one every 3 months.  The 3yo is on the regular every six month schedule.
  • The placement worker at the agency needs to come out immediately.
  • Our home’s agency worker needs to come out about day 7.
  • The CASA sets up an appointment to come out.
  • The children have a lawyer so needs to come out
  • ECI does evaluations for all children under 3 years old.
  • A psychologist does an evaluation for all children three years old and older.
  • Visits with parents start as soon as possible (investigators here are supposed to give the parents at least one visit and they often will do a second in order to make it easier for the regular worker after the 14 day hearing).
  • Any appointments that are child specific have to be taken care of.  This is where we got hit bad this time.  The baby already had a team of doctors and appointments set up.  Additionally, because the parents didn’t make their last visit, the surgical team set up a team meeting for us a few days into care so she would still be able to have surgery on time (next week).
  • We waited this time, but we ended up setting up play therapy also.  Oftentimes, I set up play therapy before the children even walk through the door though.

Add that we actually had 8 hours of training set up for the week the kids got here too.

I had to, also, do end of care documentation for the last set of kids since they left the same day these kids came.  For example, that meant I had SIX monthly reports to do (one for each of the three who had left and one for each of the new three).

Additionally, supervision and discipline is a little different at the beginning of a placement as kids have to learn how we do things, we have to learn how they do, etc.  These kids didn’t listen AT ALL at first. They still often need you to be ready to help them comply (or at least pay attention so they can comply).  The older two put a LOT of things in their mouths A LOT.  The 2yo also puts stuff in every other “hole.”  We also have never had two kids bicker as much as these two do.  And then they weren’t potty trained so we had to do that which went really well until visit last week when Professor started having issues with it.

And of course, don’t forget we have a life.  I have two young adult children. I have six children under the age of 7.  We have to play a lot.  We homeschool.  We enjoy the park a lot and gymnastics.  We still have to cook and clean like anyone else (well, actually, I guess it is really more than most families, huh?).

And on top of all this, I got sick the weekend the kids got here.  Now, ideally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it has turned into one.  I am hoping that the doctor figures out what is wrong soon.  I actually do think I feel a little better this morning. I hope!  I did set up for Doc and Professor to go to another foster home for today.  I’m hoping that helps a little both during and after Little Lamb’s appointment. Maybe one more day of rest before I get on with our week will work well for me.

So I have a couple more partially written posts too.  Hopefully I’ll start getting them posted.

Strike that :) A call to change things up

Okay, strike that last post.  Not completely, but….

Friday at 3pm, Ace, Champ, and The Baby went to fictive kin (a neighbor of the paternal aunt).

THEN, at 8:32, I get a phone call.  It was a number from out of the area, so I didn’t answer it.  So then at 8:33, I get a text from the number.  “This is K*******, I have a sibling group of 3 for you if you’re interested.”  I call her back.  3yo boy, 2yo girl, and 3month old girl.  The only information was that the baby had medication for reflux.  Because the children were from a little bit away AND would have longer visits because of the baby, I asked about transportation responsibilities.  That information wasn’t available.  K******* asked me what I could do in regards to that so that she could respond to Central Processing that I would accept the children under the condition that I could transport for visitation no more often that X times per month.  I hate to do that, but I do have five other children (though two are adults).  I have to do what I have to do.

About 10 minutes later, I got an email from our old program direction, J (now in some other supervisory position in relation to licensing us, but I’m not sure what all she does).  She sends me the short apps on each child.  Again, looks fine.  I said, “yes.”

A few minutes later, I get a call that Central Processing accepted us, just waiting on the caseworker.  She gets back shortly and they said they’d be here between 11 and 11:30 (it was almost midnight).

So we have:

Professor, the 3yo boy who is smart as a whip and really a neat kid.  He seems five in many ways.  He isn’t as fearless as his sister but he won’t be shown up by her either.

Doc (as in McStuffins) is the 2yo girl.  Again, super smart and cool kid, also seeming older than she is, actually, older than her brother.  She is fearless!

Lastly we have Turtle, the 3month old.  She’s such a good sweet baby.  She sleeps way too much, but when she is awake, she’s all smiles.

Would it surprise any foster parent out there that we didn’t get all of the known information?  For example, it was known that the baby had a cleft lip.  You can’t look at her and not notice that.  So why wasn’t it shared?  She also has another condition.  Now, CPS may not have known what that condition was, but they certainly knew how it presented, as well as that it would scare a caregiver something awful.  Add a feeding issue (not related to the lip), reflux, failure to thrive including hospitalizations.  Then certain aspects of why the children were removed to consider should have been disclosed also.  Because of their ages, I probably would have still taken them; but two of the issues are those I would have preferred to have had the choice about taking.

THEN, I take the baby to the doctor and find out something REALLY scary, like, “ummm, I’m not sure I can handle this, or WANT to” scary, like, “What if she dies on my watch?”  It really is a tempered fear and one with warning signs, but STILL!

So again, a situation where more information was not disclosed in order to get the placement.

The investigator was actually told they wouldn’t be able to place the children together.  So maybe that was part of the reason for down playing the issues a little.  However, the children were coming from two days in a kinship placement.  And what if I didn’t feel like I could deal with the issues (on top of normal foster kiddo and individual stuff)?  That would really stink if the kids had THREE placements in less than a week in care!

But we sure will be busy!  Really busy!

OB: Reality Check

The following post was written in the fall of 2011, about six months after we were licensed.  Much of it is still true though I don’t think I’m nearly as irritated or dysregulated or overwhelmed by it these days.  It just is.  

Okay, there are some things you simply do not think of when you go into fostering.

  • It is not the baby that keeps you up all night.  It is the 4 yr old, the 19month old, the 3yr old, and the 5yr old…rarely the 7month old.  I put these in order of who keeps me up, wakes me up, challenges me most at 4am.  As you can see, the 7month old who has slept through the night since the 3rd week she was here is not why I’m so tired.  It’s the rest of them (primarily the toddler and the 4yr old though).
  • Poop happens.  Really.  Of course, you expect it with the baby and toddler.  You may be less thrilled with it, but you expect it while potty training.  But potty “accidents” (quoted because they are rarely, if ever, not done on purpose) are not exactly rare.
  • Paperwork galore.  If you thought the 153 pages of paperwork you did during training and the homestudy process was a lot, don’t think you’re going to be done with it anytime soon.  Some paperwork you’ll deal with:
    • medication logs
    • weekly/monthly reports on each child (mine run 4 to 8 pages single spaced)
    • documentation of every doctor, dental, vision, psychology appointment
    • fire drills
    • training – it was 40 hours to get licensed and 30 per year to stay licensed. BTW, you do it the first year also so will have about 70 hours within the first 12 months.
    • court papers
    • school binders – each child gets a separate binder with their school related things such as report cards, attendance reports, ARDs, as well as things like their birth certificate, social security card, and immunization records.
    • incident reports (accidents, behavioral situations, etc)
    • emails to teachers, caseworkers, agency workers, licensing worker, doctors, therapists, etc
    • updated records (background checks, etc)
  • Behavior.  Seriously, there is a LOT of behavior from some of these kids.  I think I’ll stop there for today.  Please be ready to deal with what may be a lot of behavior.  Some will be serious. Some will be dangerous (or worse). Some will be annoying.  Some will be constant.  There is a LOT of behavior with some of these kids!
  • Visits galore.  You’ll have:
    • Visits with parents
    • Doctor visits (includes dental, vision, medical, specialist, etc)
    • parent-teacher conferences, probably more than the average parent
    • caseworker visits (and in our case, a visiting caseworker because the official caseworker lives so far away)
    • Therapy visits (speech, occupational, physical therapy as well as play therapy, behavioral therapy, etc)
    • agency visits (licensing, agency worker if you have one, etc)
  • People’s rude comments:
    • Are they all yours?
    • Do you run a daycare?
    • You asked for it.
    • Is it worth it?
    • They have such significant issues (this is usually not said this way.  It is usually said in regards to a specific situation or because you were dumb enough to vent to a family member or friend)
    • derogatory comments about doing it for the money
    • hurtful comments about the children’s parents

This post isn’t to complain.  I am sitting here at 6:30 in the morning having been up since 4 with children.  There has not be a ten minute break in those 2½ hours.  I guess I can be thankful for enough two and five minute ones to write this post.  Yesterday, I got  court papers that surprised me.  I had to send in approximately 20 pages of documentation yesterday and I’ll do at least 5 more pages this morning.  I did 3½ hours of training yesterday and will try to do similarly again this weekend.  No doubt there will be behavior (probably extra since they refuse to sleep). And I really want to get through these books and videos I believe will make a huge difference for the kids long term if I can implement it well.  I gotta keep trying!

I think I glorified what the days and weeks would look like before I started fostering.  I pictured parenting during the day and having from 8pm to 6am free for my time and sleep except for an occasional illness.  I pictured some hard work, but mostly happy fun-filled days.  I never dreamed of so much stress, lack of sleep, mountains of paperwork, or rudeness from others.

Is it worth it?  ABSOLUTELY.  I have five little people whose eyes I will gladly look into when the sun comes up who definitely make it worth it.  And then I’m hoping for a nap 🙂

Mental Torment

This post is going to tell you what I do to myself as a foster-adoptive mother.  And then you’ll know why I’m crazy.  Please know that I tell myself to “chill” constantly, to stop worrying what other people think, to accept my best, that perfection is not attainable at this time, etc.  But in the end, I am constantly WORRIED despite Jesus’ admonition to stop it already!

Okay, so I was going to start this another way, but I saw this post and thought, “Oh, YES!!!!”

But, quite honestly, the worst part has been the mental torment of second-guessing every move I make, every standard, every moment of discipline, because for some reason I feel like I have forgotten how to be a parent. The plethora of attachment training sessions, adoption books and doctors who seem to know more about my child than I do all feel like dozens of fingers pointing at me in condemnation.

That was written by Sara over here —> http://saraescamilla.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/quick-esca-update/

Sometimes I have this “yes!” or “yee-haw!” moment that I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.  One of my children will  show they’ve internalized the discipline (teaching/guiding, includes correction, of course), for example.  Or there is some other progress made.  The other day, Ace knocked his sister, the 9 month old(!), down.  He ran and my son grabbed up the baby.  I went and fussed at Ace in a “what on earth, have you lost your mind?” then “you better not ever do that again” manner.  And then I threw a party. Why?  Because Ace made eye contact with me the entire time I fussed at him!  My other kids do that pretty naturally, only looking away if it is another behavior in their case.  They could look at you no matter what you were saying, doing, or how.  But Ace?  Ace TRUSTED me enough to look at me.  We’re bonded enough that he could do so.  So obviously my fussing at him pretty strongly a few times (well, and I left him in his room too!) hasn’t caused any issue with our attachment.  Or maybe it has even helped.  He knows I’m not going to kill him no matter how upset I am with him.  It is safe to make eye contact with me.  It hasn’t always been safe to look ANYONE in the eyes EVER, but…

Anyway, but seriously, I’m sitting here wondering if I should really post that story.  I mean, we all know that you’re not supposed to use a raised voice or even use “that” tone with foster children, especially those traumatized by abuse, lacking attachment, etc.  And then there is the leaving him in his room for a few minutes.  How dare I?  Even though I know that Ace and I are just fine (thank you very much), I know there could be a lot of judgment.

But on a day to day basis, probably the worst judge of myself, is myself.  I wish I could do everything perfectly.  Of course, what *is* perfectly?

And really, my kids are BEAUTIFULLY behaved.  Sometimes I think we’re just way too hyper about things.  And then I think, well, they are so beautifully behaved *because* we’re very firm with high standards.  If we relaxed (like I so often think we need to), would they be so far along?  That is another thing I worry about being judged about also.

(Note:  I’m aware that no one else is nearly as interested as they seem in my head.  They have their own lives, too busy to worry about jugdging me!  They probably aren’t *really* thinking any of the things I attribute to them.)

But any time I get onto my kids, whether a look or a quick phrase or sending them to the corner or whatever, I worry what someone else thinks.  They don’t “see” the Mommy-shopping, just a charming, cute kid.  They think “oh their just kids.”  They may think I seem too easily irritated or wanting perfection.

And then….it goes ALL the way the other way:

PLEASE please please quit praising me regarding how well my children behave and how well I do with them!  I’m a fraud!

Yes, the children are usually *very* well-behaved.  This past weekend, we had the District Convention.  Three full days sitting in very uncomfy seats at the convention center.  I had five kids with me (the baby was at respite) plus bigs.  We sat in two rows so I could be within arms length of all of them, helping them with songbooks, Bibles, “looks,” giving them crayons, whatever.  The kids were AWESOMELY FANTASTIC!  I took ONE kid out ONE time to fuss at him (and it was a pretty major situation that no one would have NOT addressed).  In Three days, one kid, one time!  *I* was amazed and so incredibly thankful.

But though some of it is that I work hard with them, some of it is just that they are pretty good kids and for my three, they’ve had almost 2½ years to learn.  And then they are so much better behaved in public.  It is part of being charming and cute for other people.

But mostly, I just mess up SO much of the time!  Sure, I do some things very well with them.  I could list some great things about my relationship with them and my parenting.  But I make SO many mistakes every day.  I really don’t see how these kids are doing so well with ME as a mother!  So when people praise me, not just them, I feel like a fraud.

See, I really am nuts.  I worry about this stuff ALL THE TIME.  I want to do well by my kids and make so many mistakes.  I worry about what my mistakes say about me.  I worry about being judged.  I judge myself something awful.  And I feel like a fraud.  And every day, I hope I do a little better than the day before.  I keep hoping I can be half the mom my kids really deserve!

OB: Do We Love Them?

Okay, the last (actually, originally it was the first) of the series.  My mom has gone home and a ton has happened.  I can’t wait to post pictures of the last couple days.  We also have some interesting stuff going on foster wise.  And I have another review to post this weekend.  Busy busy bees at the H-household 🙂  Again, this was from late March 2012, soon after Sweet Little M arrived here and while we were in the process of adopting our three.

 

The other blogger asked a series of questions in her blog post at http://looneytunes09.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/are-fosteradoptive-kids-loved-differently-than-biokids/.  I’d like to respond.

Do I love my foster daughter and soon to be adopted children like I love my biological children?  ABSOLUTELY.  Love is different between each person, of course.  How could it not be?  But it isn’t less or inferior with any child versus any other child.  I go through spurts of different feelings with each of them. That has been how it has been since I gave birth to the first one through now having accepted the foster placement of the most recent.

Do I have the same love for my foster children the minute I bring them in my family? Do I love them the same as the biological children I’ve had for 17 and 19 years?  Well, that is a bit unreasonable.  It would be unreasonable to say that I felt the same about my son the moment I realized I was carrying him as I did about my daughter whom I knew for almost two years by that time.  11 months later?  Yes, I love my soon-to-be-adopted children as much as I love my biological children.  That changed pretty quickly, but did I feel the same about them as I was filling out placement papers while they were playing in my living room?  Probably not.

But I definitely care about the children immediately.  For example, I got a call towards the end of February for a sibling group of three children.  I felt strongly about them.  I said yes immediately; and I called my agency back to ask what all they tell a caseworker.  I wanted to know if they tried to “sell” us a bit to the caseworker as I really wanted these children.  There was just something…. Anyway, we got the call saying that we were the chosen home.  Well, for two weeks, things kept being pushed back.  I asked about them, got more information, and worried about them.  Some stuff happened and I was truly concerned.  I asked on a message board for positive thoughts for them as I just wanted them to feel safe and secure in this time of things being so up in the air.  I cared before they walked in the door. They never did walk through that door.  I still care.  When would I feel the same love I feel for “the three” and “my bigs”?  I don’t know.  Probably in pretty short order though! My newest hasn’t been here two weeks and I’m smitten!

I know the blogger never thought she was loved.  That worries me especially as she has spoken fondly of a couple foster parents.  What *if* the caring I feel and show from moment one and the love I feel after the first few days doesn’t sound down into their hearts?  What if what I give them is *not* healing in the slightest, but actually another hurt?  Is it really possible that any, possibly all, of these children think we don’t love them in a parent-child way?  What can we do?  What should we do?  Is it possible for us to change it?

The blogger asked if claiming the child as yours makes a difference. I don’t know.  I generally claim children as mine pretty readily.  In fact, it is a big reason I quit doing childcare because it hurt to see parents do less than ideally (imo) with “my” children.  A foster child who walks in my door is *mine.*  But when you have to share them, it does cause you to have the slightest wall built up.  Honestly, my wall is awfully short and way too soft.  Every child has breached it in no time.  I am smitten with our newest though she’s been here such a short time AND is supposed to go with family eventually (months down the line as it is an out of state placement if those people pass the homestudy).

But I had noticed that there was a little remnant of the wall still there with the three.  It felt funny, for awhile, to say, “go give that to your brother” when I was saying it to the six year old telling her to give whatever it was to the almost 17 yr old.  Now it is natural.  “This is my son, {Swimmer},” is different now.  Thinking further than 6 weeks or 6 months into the future really does make a difference.  Did I love them before?  ABSOLUTELY.  But now the roots are digging deep and the branches can move up and out also.

Lastly, the blogger asks about how a child feels when she is unloved by her adoptive parents even a few years after the adoption.  I honestly can’t imagine.  I would gather that the adoptive parent must honestly care deeply for the child and show that in every way possible.   Because of my nature of attaching quickly and strongly, I can’t imagine being the parent in this situation. I have to wonder what they consider love because if they are behaving in a loving manner (love is an action, positive behavior comes from a place of love), it is very likely they DO love the child somewhere in them.  I wonder if maybe they don’t have up a wall that is blinding them somewhat in order not to get hurt?

But then we’re back to the blogger not FEELING loved. Can a parent show in everything they say and do how much they love them and a child not “get” it?  And is there anything I can do as a foster, adoptive, bio mother to let my children feel the love I feel for them and show to them in every way I can?

OB: Even More “Why These Kids?”

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.