Over the past several months, we’ve received many messages from folks who say, “I’m not called to be a foster parent, but I’m called to help in some way. How do I did that?”
According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, there are over 397,000 children in the foster care system right now. There are simply not enough qualified homes to care for all these children. Our hearts should be moved to compassion. We cannot sit idly by while even one child goes without a home. We know we must do something, but what? Should everyone be a foster family? The short answer is, no. Should everyone do something? Without a doubt, the answer is a resounding yes!
It’s a trial many parents find themselves in when their child ends up in residential treatment or juvenile detention. How do you continue to be a parent when your child lives somewhere other than home?
Twice a week, I visit my son. Twice a week, I sign myself out on a lined piece of paper. Twice a week, I retrieve my belongings from a locked box as a staff member walks me to the door. Twice a week, the door swings shut behind me and as I cross the parking lot. Twice a week, my eyes well up. Twice a week, I turn the key in the ignition and catch my breath as the tears are too much to hold back.
One of the biggest issues adoptive parents face, is helping typically-developing children cope with the struggles and behaviors of non-typically developing children. But there is a way to find balance.
When our first daughter was born, everything was just as it should be. She was full-term. Her birth-mom did not drink or smoke or use drugs. She took her pre-natal vitamins and ate a healthy diet. Our daughter was placed in our arms just minutes after birth. From the moment she entered the world, all was right. She developed appropriately. She walked and talked on time. She ate all the right foods and transitioned to a big girl bed with ease. We were absolutely certain there would never be a bump in the road with this child. We were convinced she would have smooth sailing as she developed and matured.
Over the years, we’ve been asked how our children feel about being a part of a multi-racial family, and how they’ve adjusted. Our conversation always points back to the importance of your community.
When we became a multi-racial family, we considered the toll it might take on our children and on us. We weighed the scenarios as did our children’s birth parents. In the end, we partnered with our children’s birth parents in making the best decision we could. Our children needed a family and we already deeply loved and cared for one another. We did not ignore the color of their skin but we also didn’t make skin color the ultimate identifier of our family.
Our society prides itself on titles, positions, rankings, and statistics. It’s how we identify pro-atheletes, leaders of major corporations, and our favorite sports teams. Often, it’s how we identify ourselves. But we have learned that, in our family, we are much more than a title.
Ok, Ok I understand our blog is called Confessions of an Adoptive Parent. It’s easy to think that we eat sleep and breathe adoption. Our title is a brand but it isn’t all that we are. Adoption, to us, is more like a surname. A last name is an identifier but it isn’t a person’s sole identity.
Gossip hurts. Gossip is no fun and it tears someone down quicker than the blink of an eye. My family has been through the ringer with this one. That’s why I’m asking politely…please mind your own business!
I see my children tense before I even know why. We’ve been snuggled up on the couch for the last hour enjoying a family movie night. My youngest has built a nest of blankets so cozy and warm I feel like I could stay snuggled up there forever. Without warning, his body becomes ridged. I notice that my older son has his fists clenched firmly. My daughter has pulled her blanket tighter around her. My hearing seems to be fading in this fourth decade of my life so it takes me a moment to hear the approaching sirens, I too feel my heart skip a beat.
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.
You know how this goes… Kids head off to school, house is finally quiet, it’s time to get to work, you go about your day. Not too long after your phone rings. It’s the school again!
Every parent knows that when the school calls it’s no laughing matter. As parents of a large family, we field our fair share of school phone calls. As parents of children with special needs, we’ve come to dread seeing the number appear on the caller ID. We worry that our child may need an adjustment to her IEP. We fear the nurse has had to use our son’s Epi-Pen. We shutter to think the counselor may be calling to discuss our child’s latest standardized test scores or failing grades. Here are 10 times we weren’t prepared for what the school was about to say.