Waiting and Wrestling (Foster/Adopt Reflections)

This may never see the light of day, but I wanted to pour this out somewhere.

This waiting. It’s really something like I’ve never done before.

waiting & wrestling foster care adoption reflections

It’s not just waiting.  It’s that while I’m waiting I am also locked in a complicated battle, emotionally and spiritually.

The waiting gives a person lots of time to do a lot of soul-searching, and actually forces it upon you.

I lie awake late into the night wrestling.

I’m wrestling in prayer for a child I have never met.  For whomever my son or daughter is, right this moment.  For whomever is taking care of my child while I am waiting.  For whomever brought my child into the world, regardless of why they are no longer raising him/her.  For whomever that child is loving, or leaving behind, or afraid of, or living with, or hoping to find.  For the workers who are trying to make the best decisions for all of us without knowing the future.

Those might be obvious.

But the wrestling that goes on with my own self is stranger.

I want this child to walk through my door tomorrow.  But that’s not in anyone’s best interest.

I want to feel pride that I can parent “better” than my child’s birth family.  That’s horrifically unfair and inaccurate.

I want to send 2879234 emails to my adoption worker, checking on the status of our license, checking in on children, badgering her to work faster.  This is not appropriate.

I want to daydream and plan and start setting up a room and making phone calls about appointments and school, to start buying supplies and planning for a family of 5.  But this is getting ahead of myself, assuming that God’s plan is the same as my plan, and could lead to major disappointment.

I want to focus all of my late-night wrestles on a particular child that I’ve fallen in love with.  I want to think of that child as mine to love, mine to raise… I want to be that child’s mother.  But I have no reason to think that I will  be matched with that child.

I want to be more stoic, and chastise myself for allowing my heart and intuition to zone in on a child so quickly in the process, to guard myself from the probable loss of a child I didn’t have the right to miss.  But that’s going against my nature.

 

It’s difficult to realize my human weakness in all of this.  That I have absolutely no control over how my family is going to evolve.  That no matter how badly I might want something, I cannot be certain of anything.

But in actuality, this is exactly the same as every other mountain to climb in life.  Unable to see the other side, no idea if emotion is warranted, no way to predict what comes next.  No certainty of what God has planned.  No clue if my will aligns with His.

And I wonder if I’m ready.  I wonder if I jumped in too fast.  If the Lord is making me wait because I am somehow not yet fit to parent you.

But who’s ever ready?  You weren’t ready.  I’m probably not ready.  And it’s okay.  What’s going to happen is we’re going to be a little bit of a mess, but we’re going to be together.  I’m sure I will disappoint you and break some promises and do and say the wrong things.  But I love you, and it’s going to be okay.

Why We Chose Adoption from Foster Care

Why We Chose Adoption from Foster Care

I feel like we’re a bit of a minority in the adoption community.

We have our own biological children.  We could probably have more any time.

We are only 30.

We work with kids and teens every day (we’re educators.)

So why did we decide to adopt from foster care?

Our "Why" - Adoption from Foster Care

Let’s begin at the beginning, eh?

I’m adopted.  Now, I was adopted privately, as an infant, to parents who were almost 40 with infertility struggles.  So not really the same.  But at about 8 years old, I suddenly realized that adoption was a thing any adult could do, and I knew I wanted to adopt children.  I didn’t even know at that time if I wanted to marry or have biological children, but I was 100% committed to the idea of adopting some.

I chose adoption because my life was forever changed.

Fast forward to the ripe old age of 18, right before high school graduation.  My (now) husband and I are in my childhood living room, having a very sincere discussion about our future.  In this conversation, we established that we were going to marry each other, acquire a dog, and I came out of left field with, “You know I’m going to adopt some kids, right?”  To which he replied, wisely, “Okay, sure.”  Followed by, “And you know, if there’s several there, they’re all coming home with me, right?”  “That’s extreme, but yes, I know that.”

We chose adoption together.  It was foundational to our marriage.

So adoption has been in my heart for 20 years, and was put fully on the table right in our discussion of marriage.

5 years into marriage, we happened to have a baby.  And then another one.  And we talked about adoption this way: “When we have saved up the money, say around 40, we’ll be able to adopt those kids.”  It was never an “if,” always a “when.”

Then the story takes a sharp turn.  I made a friend in college to whom I am indebted for other reasons, but he and his wife added 3 children to their family from foster care.  We get together socially with this family, we love their kids, heard about their experience, enjoyed knowing a family who was adopting, but thought no more of it.  One day, we were involved in a conversation on Facebook with some other mothers, discussing how some of us thought someday adoption might be affordable for our families, when my friend uttered these fateful words:

“What we did was free.”

Free.

I had no idea.

I dove immediately into research, contacting, discussing with my husband.  It was a matter of a month before we were attending our first of many meetings and seminars and filling out paperwork.  And just 6 months later, we are only waiting on the office work at the agency before we will be approved for placements.

We chose adoption from foster care because we could afford to help children sooner.

As educators, there have been many incidents where we work closely with neglected or abused children, and wish we could take them home with us.  We want to change our students’ lives for the better, and some of these students need clean clothes and consistent adults and a hug before we can worry about their academic skills.  Of course, it isn’t legal to snatch up your students and take them home with you!

We chose adoption from foster care in order to help children on a more basic level than we can do at work.

I know everybody who chooses to adopt comes from their own set of experiences and desires, and I can’t claim to understand any other parents’ motivations.  For our family, our desire to adopt had nothing to do with nurturing an infant – we are very blessed to already have begun our family with two infants born to us biologically.  Because of this, we couldn’t think of any reason why we needed to undertake private adoption, or infant adoption.  We love being around older children and aren’t fearful of the speed bumps that come with adolescence or having a transracial family.  In fact, I find myself quite excited to jump into parenting an older child.

We chose to adopt from foster care because we, personally, are impartial about age or ethnicity.

If some of these reasons resonate with you, check out foster-to-adopt programs for your state!

Share your adoption stories or blog links below! 

mostly caffeinated mom why we chose adoption from foster care parent and child

Book Review: The Connected Child

 
Find on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kVZggW

 

This is a great parenting book even if all of your children came into your family biologically.  While it is directed specifically at helping children who do not have strong attachments or who are not used to authority figures, it’s great for toddlers!  Many of the tips are related to the Love and Logic approach, and more are just good sense parenting of children who are exhibiting defiant behaviors.

Surely I’m not the only mom whose “threenager” exhibits defiant behaviors.

I enjoyed that this book is authored from the perspective that a warm, nurturing home and simple living is best for children with any number of difficulties.  The authors actually came out and said that families should strictly limit their “business” and activities outside the home so that they can focus on parenting and nurturing, unhurried and unobserved.  I agree with this so much!  (I should write a blog post about it.)

“Many families live at breakneck speed.  they hurry to work, to day care, to civic meetings, and to social engagements.  They ferry the kids from scouts to soccer to piano lessons to school and back again.  the parent becomes the chauffeur with a checkbook, someone who waves good-bye in the morning and barely says hello again at night.  As parents whip through these hectic days, children are expected to just tag along, absorb life lessons, and feel connected to their families.  But an at-risk, attachment-challenged child just won’t get it.  Adopted and foster children need lots of individualized, focused time with their parents in order to catch up developmentally and to form close and loyal family bonds… parents who are seriously committed to helping a troubled and challenged child thrive will vastly increase their odds of success by making a fundamental policy decision: to slow down their lives and put their child’s needs first.  Joining the women’s league can wait for a few years; this youngster can’t.”

That.  One of the most poignant paragraphs in the book, affirming what I believe to be true about family life.

This book would even be a good refresher for parents whose families are well-established.  You learn something new every day!  (My mother just came out of my mouth.)

Format-wise, this is a quick read.  I finished it in three days because I had to return it to the library, and I’m a procrastinator.  It is broken up with lots of headings within the chapters.  There aren’t too many anecdotes (I don’t enjoy excessive anecdotes) but the authors did provide examples when helpful.  There are also checklists and tables of information sprinkled throughout, some of which would be very useful as actual checklists.

The books ends with a chapter about the parents’ own childhood and attachment levels.  This is something I’m noticing is prevalent in preparation for foster care or adoption – everyone is very concerned that you get in touch with your own childhood experiences and any emotional difficulties you might have.  This chapter (the entire book, really) actually provides an encouraging perspective, and offers practical ideas for resolving or improving your personal emotional state (and your whole parenting style) rather than giving the impression that imperfect people shouldn’t parent.

Which, obviously, they should.  We are all of us imperfect!

In conclusion…

10/10 Would recommend to any parent/prospective parent!

Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

 
To be honest, this book began rather slowly for me.  There are a large amount of anecdotes from both the author’s own life and lives of others, which is not my personal style of understanding self-help information.
About at the middle of the book, when I was close to beginning to skip over entire pages, I found some gems.  During Habit 4: Think “Win-Win”, I found tips about mitigating competition among siblings and helping curb teenage rebellious behavior.  The overriding principle is to create solutions that help everyone in the family “win,” or have an outcome they enjoy.  This includes things like family activities where everyone feels successful (family point totals goals, for example,) and creating agreements with teenagers where parents get behaviors/responsibilities they desire in their children, but the adolescent children get the freedom or responsibilities they crave to show their independence.

Habit 5 is, essentially, about empathy.  The point was made that families often treat strangers and guests with more empathy than their own members, because families assume that love is constant.  That’s an eye-opener!
Especially for parents: the author also recommends positive feedback first when a child (or adult) has completed a task.  Even if it’s not done perfectly.  Even if the child “cleaned up” by schmearing something awful into your nice towel.  Because they are proud of themselves, and are looking for approval, even if later correction is needed.

Other key take-aways: How to really work together – using every family member’s strengths (viewing them as such, rather than weaknesses)
How to reach mutually agreeable decisions based on facts and principles, not emotions and
selfishness.

Overall, I feel like this book is a great place to begin, if you come from a troubled family background or feel completely lost in nurturing your own family’s cohesiveness.  If you’re finding a lot of strain in your relationships within your family, this book could be a life saver!

For my own purposes, it was more of a refresher of principles I already knew but had perhaps tucked on the back burner.  My intent was to seek insight that could help our family keep structure and consistency throughout and after our foster/adopt journey (suddenly adding an older child could throw everything out of whack!) and my reading has largely just reminded me of areas to focus on.

6.5/10  Would recommend in some cases.