The holidays can be a difficult season for children in foster care. It’s also an emotional time for the parents caring for them. But if this isn’t you, there’s still so much you can do that’s helpful. Here are some ideas on how others can serve families like ours during the holidays. Feel free to share this post with them. That’s why we wrote it…. 🙂
It was a chilly winter afternoon shortly following Thanksgiving. The nights were getting longer and the days chillier. My family was decorating the tree, drinking vegan egg-nog (yes, that is a real thing) and rocking to our Christmas playlist. The doorbell rang and six of my eight children ran to answer it. Stumbling over each other and laughing, they nearly fell into the door. Mike and I hollered from the other room, “Wait before you open it!” We scooped up our 3-year-old and went to see who our surprise visitor might be. I flipped on the front porch light and unlocked the door to see a family standing on our front step holding a brightly wrapped gift. Mentally I checked through my calendar. Oh no, this must be the family delivering the gift from my son’s biological father. I had completely forgotten. I extended my hand toward the mom and greeted her, welcoming her inside. She was friendly but seemed to feel uncomfortable. The dad shook our hands as well and their three teens smiled awkwardly at my kids.
In previous posts on foster care we’ve talked about the trauma children who enter our care can experience due to the difficult situations they’ve come from. This is a real battle. For everyone involved. Nearly every foster parent has dealt with this, or will deal with this. But there’s another form of trauma that often occurs, and often goes unnoticed. It’s the trauma your biological children, or children who are permanently a part of your family, may go through as the result of a placement.
We were having a conversation with a real estate agent when the reality of this hit us. He found out that we were adoptive and former foster parents, so he took the time to share his personal story. Growing up, his parents took in several children through foster care, mostly during his teen years. “That was the problem,” he said. “It was traumatic for me. I was dealing with the ups and downs of being a teenager and then I watched my parents deal with exhaustion and stress over some of the placements they received. It took a toll on our family.”
Over the past decade we’ve learned what it really means to love and the true definition of family. It’s not built on DNA but choice! This past weekend, we were reminded of this as we celebrated our oldest daughter’s wedding.
“How can you love a child that isn’t your own? You know what I mean, how can you really love someone who isn’t your flesh and blood?”
Oh how that question burns me up! I’ve been assaulted by this inquisition more times than I can count. The question always leaves me with a mix of rage and sadness. It’s been hard for me to put a finger on exactly why this rude inquiry has such an effect on my heart. I think it’s because the question itself is unnatural. Ultimately, it is in our nature to fall in love with one whom we share no DNA. We give our heart, body, mind, home, life to that person who is not our flesh or our blood. We may go on to create children together but that love and that family stems from a bond created by two people who do not have any genetic reason to be bound to one another. Why then is it so difficult to comprehend the love formed between an adoptive parent and child.