*Editor’s Note- This is a guest post from our good friend Courtney Westlake. She is the author of the newly released book A Different Beautiful
. She lives in Illinois with her husband Evan and two children, Connor and Brenna. After Brenna was born with a severe skin disorder, Courtney began chronicling family life and experiences raising a child with physical differences and special needs on her blog
. You can follow her on Facebook
Sometimes the life we dreamed of having when we first started out on the parenting journey doesn’t turn out the way we envisioned it. In the midst of this, there’s an opportunity to discover a different beautiful.
When my husband, Evan, and I found out we were expecting a little girl, joining her big brother Connor in our family, we had a vision of pigtails. We pictured a little girl chasing her brother around the house, with blond pigtails bouncing on the sides of her head.
In the 9 years that we served as foster parents, we met very few case workers who were active foster parents. We always found this odd, especially since we were relying on them to give us guidance and support on the difficult road of foster care.
I get it. I really do. The foster care system is a mess, and case work is hard, regardless of the state you’re from. It’s hard to find a case worker who is not both grossly overworked and grossly underpaid. The turnover rate is beyond measure.
In our time as foster parents we met some fantastic case workers with energy, passion to love children, and a dream change the system. With nearly everyone like this, however, we became sad because we knew they wouldn’t last. We were certain that in a year, or less, they would move on to greener pastures, better paying jobs, and fresh opportunities, because it was too much. Or too little.
It’s one of the hardest journeys that human beings embark on: parenting. With all of the ups and downs, trials and defeats, challenges and often uphill climbs, how do you find hope? Where does the strength come from to face one more day? One word…confession!
Our son has a mental illness. His brain was damaged by alcohol before he was born. After his birth he suffered trauma. That exposure to trauma changed the way his brain functions. My son currently is unable to live at home. Not every parent’s experience will be the same as mine. It is my hope that through sharing my story, other parents who are feeling this pain will feel less alone.