The adoptive and foster care journey is a fantastic, overwhelming, beautiful, and sometimes defeating journey. However, there is a reality to this journey that many people are not aware of. It’s easy to go into the process with high expectations but a misunderstanding of what your role is.
The adoptive and foster parent road is full of challenge. One of the healthiest things a person can do, before they foster or adopt, is accept the reality that this is not going to be easy. Recently, Kristin shared a tragic story with me about a couple who adopted older children from a foreign country and decided, after a short period, to end their relationship with them and move on due to behaviors that were out of the couple’s control.
Yawning, yawning, and more yawning. If that describes you, we want you to know- You’re not alone! There’s a way to find rest and it’s not as difficult as you think it is.
The year was 2004 and we were the parents of a 2 year old. We had adopted her at birth, she was healthy and happy, and almost like clockwork, she began to sleep through the night at 3 months old. “This parenting gig is easy,” we thought. Boy were we in for a rude awakening (literally).
On the journey of adoption, foster care and special needs parenting, we’ve experienced numerous difficult and heartbreaking moments. The only way we we’ve made it through these trying times was through the support and love we received from our support community.
We walked in feeling alone and defeated. We walked out feeling empowered and supported. There was nothing magical about the meeting we were attending. It was simply 8 families, all going through what we were going through, all having adopted from the foster care system, sitting around a large conference room table, sharing their pain and agony with openness and honesty.
When we first started down the foster and adoptive road, we were energized and excited. But exhaustion quickly kicked in and left us defeated. We soon wondered: Will we ever find our way back to a place of rest?
I remember staring at our newborn daughter, who was screaming at the top of her lungs at 3am, and begging her to fall back asleep. Of course, being a newborn, she wasn’t listening to me. I yawned one of those out-of-control yawns. I hadn’t seen that hour of the night since college. I soon realized this was just the beginning.
*Editor’s Note- A few days ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Maria Cooke for this story, which originally appeared in my column on Disney’s Babble.com
. It was an amazing interview and I walked away from it inspired and moved. I’m sure you will too!
It’s no secret that the landscape of current news has been especially depressing lately. Between politics, violence, police shootings, and just plain sadness, it’s all I can take. But every now and then I come across a feel-good story that causes me to sit up, take notice, and consume every word.
This happened a few days ago, when I read about Mario Martell Thornton, an 18-year-old who, after spending nearly his entire life in foster care, was finally adopted. As a former foster parent and the father of two grownup daughters who were adopted at ages 17 and 25, what happened to Mario this past Tuesday, October 4th, really moved me. He found a forever home. His dream of being adopted before he aged out of the foster care system came true, as Mike and Maria Cooke, from Tampa, Florida, stood before the judge and made Mario a permanent part of their family.
As parents of children with special needs, particularly Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, we often receive the question, “How do you know if your child’s behavior is a choice, or if it’s their disorder?”
All I wanted to do was wrap my arms around this couple and hug them. We stood by the stage, just after I finished presenting to their foster parent group, and talked about the difficult child they were parenting. She was their first foster placement, and all signs pointed to adoption, until her bi-polar disorder forced a difficult decision. Now, she was no longer living in their home, and they were forced to visit her in a psychiatric unit. The outlook was bleak.
Kristin will be speaking at the Adoptive Family Seminar at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan on November 15th. Learn more about this event here.
||November 15, 2016
||Adoptive Family Seminar
||Grand Rapids, Michigan
||Click here to register.
||Click here for more information.
The glares, stares, and judgmental glances. We’ve seen it all in our 15 years on the adoptive and foster care journey. Particularly as we’ve worked hard to parent children with major special needs. While we owe no one an explanation, we have some solid reasons for parenting our children the way we do.
It’s a mild September afternoon in Central Indiana where we live. My family and I have spent the past hour watching my oldest son play football for his 7th grade team. Another game, another victory. This team is so good it’s scary. As the clock tics down to the final seconds, we make our way down to the sideline to say hello to our sweaty, dirty mess of a child. He loves the game. Especially the hard-hitting aspect of it. The sun has gone down and it’s nearing 8 PM. He sees us waiting by the track and excitedly jogs over to us.