One of the most difficult aspects of foster parenting is caring for teenagers who have come from difficult places. The many issues that come with this territory can be too much to handle at times. But, there are a few key ways to parent with success.
I could feel hear heartache through the words in her email. With each line I read, my heart sank a little deeper for her. A single mother in her 60s. Forty years deep into the journey of foster care. More than 200 children through her home in that time. If anything I should have been learning a thing or two from her. Mostly about perseverance, determination, and compassion. But she was reaching out to ask my advice.
We’ve said it a million times on this blog: foster care and adoption are hard roads to travel. The emotional toll it takes on you is insurmountable. But what happens when your mind and heart betray you and you think thoughts you would never share openly?
Tears were building in his eyes as he fought hard to hold back his emotion. He clinched his lips tightly and squinted. But like the bursting of a dam wall, they finally spilled over. He could no longer hold back. Convulsing and coughing, he let go and allowed everything that was pinned inside of him to flow freely.
It’s easy to let our children’s bad choices, extreme behavior, or special needs defeat us and make us want to give up. But something deep inside of me refuses to let his choices define his future!
The other day Kristin sent me a text that nearly took my breath away. “About to call the police department back over the incident at camp this summer.” The incident happened between my 13-year-old son and another boy enrolled in sports camp with him. The fellow camper said something to my son, made a face, and muttered something else under his breath, and in turn, my son lost his cool, charged after the boy, punched him in the head, and subsequently threw him to the turf in the indoor soccer arena.
A common issue among children adopted or in foster care from traumatic places, is food hoarding or food issues. While it can be frustrating to deal with as a parent, there are some keys to handling it successfully.
A few years ago Oprah Winfrey interviewed Academy Award winning actor Sidney Poitier about his career and his life growing up. In a gripping moment, Oprah asked Mr. Poitier about being poor as a youngster. Often his family didn’t have food and he would go hungry. “How did you work to overcome this as you became an adult?” she asked.
Sometimes the foster and adoptive journey gets the best of us. The life we knew, or hoped for, has been reduced to a pile of rubble. And we wonder, “Will I ever crawl out of this?”
I was emailing back and forth with a friend the other day, who was providing content for a new adoption article I’m writing for this fall, when she apologized for taking so long to get stuff to me. Then she shared some of their recent trials. Their son had recently broken his arm on a trampoline. When they went in to see his pediatrician, things went from bad to worse. The doctor flippantly told them he may have bone cancer.
*Editors Note- This is a guest post by Jessica Graham. She is a mother of three kids, all of whom have been adopted and two of whom have significant special needs. Her book Beautiful Paradox: Musings, Marvelings and Strategies of a Special Needs Parent
is available on Amazon
and is free September 15-16, 2016.
As foster and adoptive parents, many of us are also parenting children with major special needs. Many of us are constantly looking back, before we began this journey, wishing someone would’ve told us what to expect.
Being a parent to a child with medical or developmental needs is as much like being a parent to a typically developing child as it is different. Parenting is hard no matter who your kid is – and no matter who you are. Also, no matter how much you prepare, experience will be your greatest teacher. But often for those of us who became special needs parents through adoption or foster care, there is an underlying frustrating – why didn’t someone tell me how it really is!
We’re proud of our big family. We’re equally as proud of our big 12-passenger van. It’s helped us cart our beautiful family all over the U.S. But recently, something interesting happened…
This is NOT our van. This is what our van SHOULD look like.
A few weeks ago I went into a local coffee shop, grabbed a cup of Jo and returned to my van. I unlocked the door and climbed into the driver’s seat. I wrinkled my nose at the smell of stale smoke. It was not the smell of a fresh cigarette; it was the leftover lingering stench of a chain smoker’s clothes. A chill ran through me and I placed my bag on the floor and my coffee in the cup holder. I climbed across all the rows of seats to the very back to make sure there wasn’t a person connected to that odor. No one was there. I climbed back to the front and looked all around the parking lot.
Sometimes, as foster and adoptive parents, we’re pushed over the edge and we lose our cool with our children. How do you pick up the pieces and move forward after you’ve failed your children?
It started with a disrespectful look, or so I thought. I had asked my 13-year old daughter to do something she knew was her responsibility and the face she made when I asked her for the 4th time, angered me. It quickly escalated into something greater and it was my fault. Sure, she made the face at me, talked disrespectfully, but it didn’t warrant the hurtful words, or angry outburst that came from me.