Do I Have What It Takes To Care For This Child?

It’s a question we all wonder: “Do I have what it takes to care for this hurting child?” I believe with all of my heart that we do. We’ve got this. And here’s why…

I know you.

And I know what’s going through your mind right now.

Those questions and fears that bounce around your mind like a pinball in a pinball machine???

Yeah, I have them too! Trust me.

You lie awake, night after night, staring at the ceiling, wondering, praying, hoping, begging, but fearing what you’ve been trying to not believe about yourself…“Do I have what it takes to do this?” “Can I really do what’s needed for this child?” “Am I cut out to help them overcome the hell of their past?” “Can I love them through the devastation of their trauma?” “The abuse?” “The loss?” “The fear?” 

Maybe all of these questions flood your mind after an 8-hour tantrum…after cleaning up pieces of broken belongings because they suffer from a dark disorder as a result of that traumatic past. Perhaps you’ve spent years trying to form a healthy attachment to your child, only to be rejected over and over and over again! Maybe it’s just your own self-doubt that pounds your mind like a boxer striking a blow on an opponent!

And so you ask….Do I have what it takes?

I believe you do. And I believe this deep in my heart.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. I’ve wrestled with this over and over. I’ve battled my own self-doubt. Through this, I can confidently say ‘you do’ and ‘so do I!’ You may be shaking your head but let me tell exactly why I believe this….

  1. You have heart. You have a heart for vulnerable children. For kiddos who’ve come from darkness so thick, it’s hard to believe that light could ever pierce it. You have a heart for your kid. You are willing to run through the most violent storm of life to care for this child. Yep, that’s you. And buddy, come hell or high water, you’re not giving up on this human being!
  2. You have compassion. Speaking of that heart in your chest….it doesn’t bleed with compassion, it gushes with compassion! In-spite of the bruises on your arm, the wounds in your spirit, and the exhaustion in your body, your heart breaks for your child. You can’t imagine where he or she would have been had you not picked up the phone and that compels you to never give up fighting for them, or against their traumatic past alongside of them. You have compassion in you…..believe in it and wrap your arms around it tightly!
  3. You’re willing. We’ve said this often….it doesn’t take a perfect person to foster or adopt….it takes a willing person. Someone with a compassionate heart who’s willing to do whatever it takes (what….ever!) to care for a child who’s broken and hurting deeply. It’s an invitation to willingly look past the exterior of your child’s behavior…and see the beautiful heart inside them. You’re willing to do this….aren’t you?
  4. You carry a never-give-up spirit. That’s right….that’s you! You have what it takes because you keep moving forward even when the outlook is bleak. Even when you’re getting the run-around and run-around and run-around by the foster care system. Even when you’ve spent weeks and weeks and weeks battling defiance, and aggression, and bad choices. You never give up because you believe in a bigger story for your child’s life and future. You believe they are NOT defined by their traumatic past. You believe they have hope and a future! You don’t believe they are simply a bad kid doing bad stuff. You know deep in your heart they are a hurting child speaking out of their trauma. Thus…you never give up!

Friend, if I could look you in your eyes right now…if I could cup your dampened cheeks in the palm of my hands and look you straight, I’d nod up and down with a half grin as we locked eyes. I’d purse my lips tightly as if to say nonverbally, “You got this.” Why?

Because you do. You got this. I know the heart that beats within you because it’s my heart too! While we are beaten down, broken, spent, exhausted, stretched thinner than thin, and feeling completely inadequate, we have what it takes. We will never ever ever give up on these precious children God chose to place in our care. We will never walk away from these babies who now wear our last name.

If that’s you….you have what it takes!

Question: Have you struggled believing that you’re cut out for this? Share your story with us. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • If I may share a link to my blog: http://fightingforanswers.com/2017/04/unfinished-quilt-top.html
    our son is 16. he has been in care for most of 6 years while I argued and fought for services and supports on his behalf. in the end, they believe they have cured him.

    we think he can live in the community if he has supports. the state doesn’t think he needs support. He has FASD, RAD, Autism and a host of other dxes.

    We have known him his whole life, and been his parents for most of it. I’d not trade him for anything in the world.

    thank you
    Carl

    • Thanks for sharing, Carl. Love having dads on here.

    • Love love love this. Thanks so much for sharing this here!

  • Jennifer Redmond DeBeltz

    Thank you because I feel this way most nights. I have one with FASD, Sensory processing, Anxiety, OCD and ADHD. 1 with Autism, Anxiety and ADHD and the other with DMDD. We have had a hard few years, we need support and to know we are strong enough. Hard to believe that when we get so beat down daily. Thank you for always showing us we can do this.

    • Cheering for you!!

    • Robert Hafetz

      Adoptees are often diagnosed with disorders they dont have but are in the DSM 5. Every diagnosis should be questioned and ruled in or out never taken for granted. Every adopted child experiences a preverbal trauma when the primal mother is separated. Responses to this trauma look just like the disorders you mentioned. Short attention span, hypervigilance, acting out, emotional distance numbness, attachment regulating behaviors thats seem erratic, shame, poor self image, social interaction problems and many others. In adoption what we see is a response to trauma in the context of attachment. The medications for ADHD will intensify the brain when we need it to calm the mind. Children who experience trauma can be in a constant state of threat/survival. They feel threatened all the time. Even when a disorder is present the trauma still has to be dealt with.

  • That was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you. 5.5 years in and my 9 year old still struggles so deeply that it is deeply upsetting to our entire family. But you’re right, I’m not giving up the the child that God gave me that now shares my name. Thank you.

    • I’m so glad to hear this. You are most welcome!

  • Lisa Wigham

    Exactly how I feel and exactly the words of encouragement I needed today! Battling with feeling a failure and not good enough mother to my daughter with FASD . Trying To see past her behaviours has been very difficult for me and I feel down trodden , exhausted and beaten. Positive encouragement is just what I need, so thank you for this post x

    • Robert Hafetz

      Unless there are profound features of FASD question the diagnosis. Adoptees are often erroneously diagnosed with RAD, FASD, ADHD, because there is no diagnosis for adoption related trauma in the DSM5. Trauma responses can appear exactly like the behaviors associated with the previous disorders. The best catagory for adoptees is DVT developmental trauma and the correct interventions must be experiential and trauma based.

      • What advocacy steps can be taken to add adoption related trauma to the dam?

        • Robert Hafetz

          The problem is the pharmaceutical companies that make ADHD meds. The correct diagnosis would be DVT developmental trauma proposed and rejected because of the pharma fear that they would lose sales. We are diagnosing trauma incorrectly as ADHD and the medication can make them worse. Every therapist knows what DVT is but since it isnt in the DSM 5 insurance wont cover it. Be prepared to pay for counseling out of pocket so no diagnosis is needed. IN ost cases we are seeing adaptive responses not a disorder. The last thing these kids need is to be told they are crazy. When there are problems we have to treat the entire family and not blame the child. Too often parents dont know how to create secure attachment with these children and we blame the child for it.

      • We’ve had the same thing told to us by our neuro psych. It’s so important to know this.

    • You are most welcome. Hang in there. You are doing a good job and you are a good mom!

  • Carolyn Ruch

    As a seasoned mother of seven (most of whom are now adults), three biological, one adopted, and three of whom we’ve had legal custody, I think it’s important to note that there may be seasons when a bio, adopted, or foster child may need to be out of your home and under another’s care. The transition from home to another facility can “feel” like you’re giving up. It can make you “feel” like a failure. In my opinion, when an entire family is going down for one or a marriage is falling apart for a child–it’s never God’s desire. He made us to be one with our spouse, which is a covenant relationship, not with our children. I’m so grateful for a wise counselor who continually turned my husband and me back toward each other first. And thirty-two years later, we’re still together and in love. We’ve had to make some HARD decisions along the way. And so have our children–whether they would accept our love or deny it. But whether they accepted it or denied it, and two of ours are still working this out in other locations, they would always find two parents together–the core family still intact.

  • Allisonm

    One of the most important things I’ve learned as the mother of three children who are recovering from trauma is that I only have to have what it takes one day at a time–sometimes one breath at a time. I don’t have to be equal to the whole lifetime of mothering them. God provides the means to live in the present, including the means to make appropriate plans to meet future needs. Sometimes the best I can do is breathe in and breathe out in the faith that that is all that is required of me as a mother for those moments and that God will provide the strength and wisdom when I need it. I don’t have to have all the answers–just the faith to go on, keeping an open mind and heart for God’s leading.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Carolyn Ruch about needing to keep our marriage strong and healthy. We cannot allow our house to be divided against itself.

    • So very true. Thanks for sharing Allison. 😉

  • Robert Hafetz

    “It doesn’t take a perfect person to foster or adopt….it takes a willing person.” Mike Berry. Statements like this dont help in fact they impede the quality of foster and adoptive parenting. It takes a person with the knowledge to parent a traumatized child. That means learning skills that arent readily known and adoption agencies dont offer. Adoptive parents often incite the very behaviors they dont want, power struggles, anger, shame, feelings of abandonment because they dont understand how to communicate with the preverbal trauma memory of maternal loss or believe that infants cant make long term memory.
    Infants only a few days old can record long term memories. “Infants do not think but they do process emotions and long term memories are stored as affective schemas” (Geansbauer, 2002). An infant separated from its first mother will record a memory of that event. Memories of this nature are called preverbal memory representations and they have a unique quality that must be understood by adoptive parents. “Infant memories are recalled in adulthood the same way they were recorded at the time they occurred. It is difficult possibly impossible for children to map newly acquired verbal skills on to existing preverbal memory representations” (Richardson, R., & Hayne, H. 2007). An older adoptee who recalls an emotional memory will experience it the same way it was felt as an infant. Adoptees can have troubling memories that they cannot identify in words. This means that they cannot understand what they are feeling and without a vocabulary they cannot even ask for help. This leads to a cognitive /emotional disconnection. “Children fail to translate their preverbal memories into language”(Simcock, Hayne, 2002).

    • We whole heartedly agree with you. You know your stuff. But I do think you are misunderstanding what Mike is saying. He said you don’t have to be a “perfect” person. No one will ever be able to do this job perfectly. It’s far to hard and too complicated with all the variables. Our job is to encourage these parents. We are often so beat down and need to be encouraged. We educate too. But we mostly encourage and let them know we are in this together.

      • That is how I read it as well. Attempting perfection would kill my health. And I already struggle.

  • Gail Hinshaw-Wright

    I really needed this today. When do you say, “I won’t be abused because you were?” How much should we take? Understanding why our children are the way they are doesn’t make it less painful when they say and do hurtful things. We’re learning boundaries and getting less emotionally battered and exhausted. No, we won’t give up on our 3 boys. But sometimes they need more help than we can provide.