Foster care has gained a global spotlight over the past few years thanks, in part, to movies and media coverage. Many people are choosing this path. But, there’s a right reason and a wrong reason to choose this journey.
“I wish we could do away with the term foster-t0-adopt,” my friend said, as we chatted briefly during a conference a few days ago. “It communicates the wrong message to people who are entering the process. We should call it, foster-to-reunify.” She was referring to the underlying intention some have in entering the journey, to build a family by fostering. Not specifically the program of fostering-to-adopt. I nodded as I listened. She was completely right. Foster to adopt IS misleading at times!!
Sometimes you feel that you owe the world an explanation. You don’t! You feel your child’s choices, behavior, or lack of social interaction, warrant a full-blown summary. They don’t. Here’s why…
I’m going to do my best to give you, foster and adoptive parent who feels isolated, a voice right now. You who’ve grown tired of fielding question after question after question about your child’s special need, recent public outburst, suspension, arrest or social shortcomings. I’m going to do everything in my power to walk in your shoes and let you know you are not alone. I want you to know, as we begin, that your family’s business is nobody else’s business on the face of God’s green earth!
*Editor’s Note- This is a guest post by our good friend Lisa Qualls. She is a writer, speaker, mom of 12, and the creator of One Thankful Mom
, where she writes about motherhood, adoption, faith, and grief. Lisa is a mom by birth and adoption. Along with her husband Russ, their adoption journey has been marked by joy as well as challenges of trauma and attachment. You can visit her blog here
, and connect with her on Facebook here
Out of all the twists, turns, triumphs, and defeats that are often a part of the foster care journey, there are beautiful blessings in disguise when you least expect it.
You know what surprises me most – what I would never have expected? The relationship we have with my Zoe’s* family.
Last week Zoe’s mom had one of her regular weekly visits with Zoe and her sisters, but this time it was at our house. When I arrived to pick her up, she had ingredients for a meal packed in grocery bags, ready to cook for her kids when she got here. The little girls were dropped off by their foster mom and quickly ran outside to play with my son while their mom cooked and chatted with Zoe at the kitchen island.
Over the past few months, we’ve been inundated with emails asking this question. We get it. We’ve felt it. We’ve been there. And here’s what we have to say about it.
Sometimes I nod feverishly when I read through emails from readers who pour their broken hearts out. Sometimes I forget to actually hit reply because I’m so engrossed in the pain they are sharing with me. Their son has pushed them to the edge with his behavior…held the entire family hostage…traumatized his younger brothers and sisters to the point of everyone needing therapy…disrupted any ounce of a normal life.
It’s been a week since we opened enrollment for Oasis Community and the stories we are hearing have moved us, inspired us, and often, left us in tears. Here’s a little more about Oasis..
“I can’t thank you enough for Oasis. It showed up at the perfect time. I was drowning with my kids, with my marriage, with my life! I think you guys may have just saved my life!”
Over the past year or so, we’ve received hundreds of emails from people who have the same heart cry- “Is there anyone out there who will walk with me?”
I could feel her emotions through each word she typed in her email to me. She explained how she had adopted, with a full heart, a sibling group of 3 from foster care 7 years earlier. Everything seemed normal with both of them. The little girl, only 2 years old, was loving, and kind, and the oldest boy, while a bit rough and tumble, was starting to look like a leader among his siblings at only 6. The middle child, also a boy, was quiet, and introspective, but nothing concerned this loving mother too much. She went through with their adoption and they had found a forever home.
You never anticipate the emotions you will feel when you receive an official diagnoses for your child. You realize that a lot is going to change. But there is a way to let go of normal and accept your new reality.
No one ever starts out on their parenting journey thinking that their child will have special needs. Especially one that will make school and social interaction difficult. And yet, it happens. And we grieve. We adjust our life’s vision, and then we learn to accept our new normal. We eventually stop holding on to the ideals we had, and rather fall in love with the reality of our precious baby girl or boy. Our beautiful child who has special needs.
It’s been a month since we were in Seattle, Washington for The Refresh Conference and we are still overwhelmed by everything we experienced. Take a look at the highlight video below…
Have you ever had that feeling that you were exactly where you needed to be, at the precise moment you needed to be there, experiencing the exact thing you needed to, with the exact people you needed to experience it with? That was the thought that kept running through our hearts and minds on March 3-4 as we joined with 1600 of our fellow foster and adoptive parents in Seattle for The Refresh Conference.