You get the call from a case manager asking you to take in a teenager recently placed in foster care. Or you’ve chosen to adopt a pre-teen. Now what? How do you successfully set boundaries for them? How do you ensure you and the child are on the same page when it comes to respect, guidelines, and family values?
We didn’t wade into the shallow end of a heated pool, so-to-speak, when we began our foster care journey. We were pretty much tossed into the deep end. Our license was completed in a very short 4 weeks and the calls started rolling in. We were often unprepared, which is to be expected. This was also very much the case when we took in our first teenager. While we had served as youth pastors for nearly a decade before our first teen arrived, everything we thought we knew about them went right out of the window when we were suddenly parenting one!
When it comes to adopting older children there’s often a belief that, because they’ve been through so much, it’s impossible to form a healthy bond with them. We’ve discovered something different.
In our 15 years of parenting we have had the honor of participating in the lives of 23 children. Most of them returned home or went on to be adopted by their forever families, eight of them have stayed forever. Before I became a parent of an older child, I didn’t think much about bonding and attachment. I am attached to my own parents, brothers and sisters. I have not personally had reason to question my place or belonging in the world. When we adopted our first daughter at birth, we bonded quite naturally.
Often, when you’re in the trenches of parenting children with major special needs, the most important relationship you have begins to suffer. How do you keep your marriage healthy in the midst of very difficult circumstances with your children?
I met my husband 20 years ago this winter. I saw him across the lobby of the student center at our college campus. I hoped he would notice me and when he did I shook his hand and smiled the warmest smile I could muster on that cold January evening. He asked me out a few weeks later and I was excited to get to know him. From that moment on, we enjoyed spending as much time together as possible. We studied at the library, took walks around campus, visited the art museum where admission was free. We didn’t need to do anything fancy. Time together was all we wanted.
Believe it or not, summer is the perfect time to start planning for a new school year. A few weeks ago we shared a podcast episode entitled How To Form Healthy Partnerships With Your Child’s School. As a follow up, we wanted to share additional steps you can take now, to form a solid connection with your child’s school before the new school year begins.
It’s almost summer here in Indiana! My kids are planning trips to the pool, playdates and sleepovers. I’m tempted to get caught up in all the summer fun daydreams. But before I can break out the flip flops, I remember I’ve got to start planning for the next school year. I’m the mom of a few children with special needs. School can be stressful for our family, summer is a wonderful time for us to reconnect, build our relationship and just plain relax. It’s also a time to get prepared for the inevitable start to the new school year.
We talk often about forming positive relationships with birth families. But what do you do when you can’t get past the anger you feel toward them?
If you know us, you know we are strong advocates for open adoption. We often write and speak in favor of open relationships with a child’s birth family. In our own family we have regular contact with biological parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even brothers and sisters. We feel that if it is possible and safe to have an open relationship with a child’s birth family, you should.
We often talk about attachment disorder from the perspective of the long awaited real hug, or genuine “I love you.” But what do you do when your child attaches too quickly?
February in the Midwest is guaranteed to be bitter cold and filled with snow… well at least until this year. For the last three weeks we have had temperatures in the 70s and sunshine almost every day. Consequently, the grass is turning green and bulbs which should be dormant for another month are pushing through the soft earth and blooming just a bit too early. I have enjoyed these last few weeks of stolen Spring. My children hauled their bikes out of storage, we grilled out and even had a campfire. As I was driving to work the other day the sight of crocuses in bloom made my heart skip a beat. I felt myself begin to grin, then quickly remembered the weekend forecast. Snow. The beautiful crocuses had bloomed too early. I found myself wondering if they would survive the weekend.
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.