It’s been a difficult 13 years with our oldest son. Some would have told us to give up a long time ago. On paper he seems like a hopeless cause. But we’ve found hope. And we refuse to believe his story is over.
It’s not what we pictured when we became parents 15 years ago. We wouldn’t have looked at you and told you we hoped to raise a child with permanent brain damage. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Once we discovered the reality of his disorder we struggled. We’ve been to the darkest places of anger, frustration, and the finally, into the glorious light of forgiveness and redemption. We’ve battled tooth and nail against our son, with our son, and for our son. We’ve almost given up a few times….almost.
I know what you want to do, and what feels natural, when all hell breaks loose with your child. But I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to do that anymore.
You are not alone.
If I had a dollar for every time those words left my lips and crossed the space between me and the person I was standing in front of? Let’s just say…beach house in Malibu. Or better fitting…1000 acre farm at the foot of a ginormous mountain in rural Montana where my kids could run wild and free, and any outbursts, meltdowns, glass-breaking, dish-smashing tirade, brought on by trauma (or that simmer we always talk about), wouldn’t be heard by a living soul for miles. Foster and adoptive parent: you feeling me on this one?
As much as we wish we were called into a journey that was easy, problem free, and had a lot less pit falls, we’re just not. It’s far from perfect and there’s a reason for this.
I’m typing this from 30,000 feet above the earth as I fly to Denver, Colorado for a one-day conference for foster and adoptive parents, called Spotlight. I was there last year, and it was amazing. Such beautiful people with hearts for the vulnerable children in their city. It’s quite amazing to see. I should say that I’m a bit on cloud 9 after last weekend at The Refresh Conference in Seattle. It’s been a week, and I can’t stop thinking about all we experienced. We absolutely loved our time in the Pacific Northwest with all of the amazing people we call friends and family. We feel this way every year after the conference ends. Yes, it’s that amazing.
If you’ve wondered this as you’ve battled your child for days upon days, or found yourself so frustrated you could scream, you’re not alone. But there’s a truth you need to know.
I know you. I see you. I am you.
I know what’s going through your mind on any given day. I know what you whisper as you recover from an 8-hour battle with your kid, or walk out of an IEP meeting defeated because there’s no sign of progress. Trust me. I know. If you looked at an X-ray of my heart it wouldn’t look like the perfectly formed plastic model you’d see on the corner of a doctor’s desk. It’s been broken so many times over my child, it’s deformed and morphed, like lava flow into ocean waters morphing into new land.
We all need hope on the journey of foster care, adoption and special needs parenting. But, often, it feels so far away. We start to wonder, “Will I never find any?”
Hope. Just saying the word fills you with a myriad of emotions, doesn’t it? You either feel a peace that passes all understanding because you’ve discovered hope, or you’re struggling to breathe because you’ve lost hope altogether. Sometimes we look at life, and the difficult circumstances we are presently in with our children, and feel as though we’ll never find our way through this. But what if we told you, there is hope. And, you can find it!
Parenting children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders can often feel hopeless and void of answers. In the debut of Season 5, Mike and Matt discuss practical strategies to help parents form a plan and find answers.
There are an estimated 40,000 infants born every year with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. As we’ve mentioned many times the past on this blog and podcast, this is a disorder that is widely misunderstood and even judged. But there is new light being shed on the subject and it’s helping parents find resources and answers. We know how difficult it is day in and day out, to parent a son or daughter who suffers from this disorder. That’s why we’ve dedicated this episode to walking through some very practical and helpful strategies to help parents, on the journey of foster care and adoption, who feel helpless and hopeless as they parent children with FASD.
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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.