To The Parent Ready To Give Up: “I See You!”

This is a guest post by Jennie Owens. Jennie and her husband, Lynn, have parented over 100 children and worked with thousands of families. Together, they founded Forever Homes, a non-profit organization that seeks to support, encourage, and empower foster and adoptive families. Jennie has an MA in Education and extensive training in trauma-informed care and therapeutic parenting. She provides trainings at conferences, schools, retreats, and workshops.

This journey is hard at times. We fight for our children, but often feel alone, wondering if there’s anyone who understands the needs our children have. As we step into this New Year, we want you to know….you are not alone!

You started out this journey into foster care and adoption full of hope and determination. Now you’re not even sure you can make it to the next day.

I’ve been there. I see you. You are not alone.

I see you when you hide in the bathroom and cry. After all, that’s about the only place you can be alone, even if it’s just for a few minutes. You splash cold water on your face to hide your puffy eyes and walk out, trying to put on a brave face, even though you don’t feel brave anymore.

You used to feel like your love could conquer any issue your child might have. But now you wonder if you have what it takes to do this.

I see when you sit in the car for a minute before turning on the ignition. Will it even help to drive your child to see another specialist? You have given up hope that anyone will understand and be able to help. But giving up is unthinkable, so you force yourself to start the car.

I see you when it’s time to go back home after you’ve had a short break. I feel that sense of dread rising up in your belly. Life is hard, and you’re tired of the battle. You want to drive in the opposite direction and never return, but you head home and gear up for another day of fighting on your child’s behalf.

I see you standing there, listening to one more person offering unsolicited and clueless advice. You know they’re trying to help, but it hurts to be misunderstood. You’ve tried it all, and they’ve raised children who’ve never experienced trauma. So you smile and nod, knowing there’s no way they could possibly get it. But you feel so alone.

I see you, afraid to share how you feel with anyone. You stay in isolation, wondering if anyone can handle your real, raw emotions. So you keep them in. You try to push them down, but they come bubbling up when you least expect it. After one more call from the principal. After once again you’re cleaning feces or urine from the carpets or air vents. After you’ve dealt with one too many temper tantrums in the middle of Walmart, with onlookers shooting you looks of disdain. 

You’re tired of your pain, exhaustion, and frustration being misjudged. It feels like no one understands.

When I was on the journey with my older children who were adopted from foster care, I felt utterly alone. I didn’t know that others experienced the same emotions.

In my work with other parents through one-on-one coaching, leading workshops, and organizing retreats, I have learned that other people share similar experiences while parenting kids from tough places. It’s just that few have a safe place to be honest and share those raw emotions. In fact, that realization compelled me to write a book, called Dancing with a Porcupine. I wanted to provide others with that safe place. I wanted them to know that they weren’t alone and that what they were feeling was normal. It also motivated me to begin Rejuvenate Retreats, where we provide moms a safe place to connect, relax, and recharge.

As we look into the new year, I hope that you will offer yourself a little bit of grace and love. No one is perfect. None of us has this whole parenting thing figured out. But, we can support and love each other through it.

While it’s easy to heap criticism on ourselves for what we aren’t doing well, I hope you are giving yourself credit for showing up, despite the difficulty. I also hope that you are going easy on yourself. This IS hard. Compassion Fatigue, PTSD, and Secondary Trauma are all realities for those of us on this journey. You can’t dive into deep waters of pain with another person without (at times) being overwhelmed with negative emotions and wanting to give up. That’s normal. 

I see you, and you are doing a good job.

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