adoption, family

“Did You Get To Pick?” Adventures In Explaining AdoptingThrough Foster Care

noses

Yes, as an adult, I get to pick my nose. It’s my “option” as my little chickens would say. I always try and do it in private, but it’s my option nonetheless.    I get asked this question a LOT!

However, the love a family should give to a child is not optional. In my personal opinion choice in foster care and adoption isn’t about choosing the right child to match your family. It’s about choosing the right thing to do. It’s about matching your family to children in need.

For instance, as parents, Luke and I have to make a conscious decision to be the right kind of parents for our children. We pick what resources we will use to help our family. We pick their pediatrician and their therapists. We sometimes pick out their clothes. However, we did not go shopping for them. They are not purchased items. They cannot be returned if they don’t “fit.”

A lot of times I hear parents referring to their offspring as if they were accessories or reflections of themselves. Parents get into this as something they want.  They want to experience being a parent and they want to experience family love. That’s great. For us. But what about them? Do the kids in care really get to “pick?” Do they have choices that they feel will enhance their lives? The short answer is no. They have no choices to be in foster care and few options as to where they are placed.

In our adoption application we had to fill out a section about “what we would accept.” When you have birth children you don’t accept or not accept them. They just belong to you and you must fit your life to encompass them. You might end up giving birth to a child with a disability or a cognitive delay. You wouldn’t “return them.”

Our kids are a tapestry of traits, emotions, and characteristics. No piece of paper could ever define them. Luke and I spoke to what would be “acceptable ” to us when we had our adoption interview. We were open to children older than 5. Any legal conditions (legal risk), learning condition and almost any medical condition would be alright. We were particularly interested in sibling groups. We thought 2 would be fine of any gender.  We hesitated at the severe behavior and psychiatric conditions box. We did not check it because we didn’t think we could handle it. We didn’t think we could do it. Guess what? We got 4 siblings. We loved them right away. They all had significant behavioral and emotional problems. We did do it. We are doing it. We didn’t have a choice because we had to do what our children needed.

These attahment challenges didn’t present right away. Reactive attachment disorder is just that. It is a reaction to attaching or becoming emotionally close to anyone. This didn’t come out in foster care and therefore wasn’t listed in their paperwork. We didn’t hear about it at our disclosure meeting. It came out when they came home. And you know what? Love got us through it. We didn’t return them or send them back.

In our darkest hours, during the most violent tantrums you could imagine, during hospitalization and med changes, we stuck it out. And why wouldn’t we? Families stay together. Our love for these four chickens is unconditional. Luke and I worked together to walk with them through their rage and trauma. We sought to be the best parents for them. We educated ourselves through training a and research and support groups. We adjusted our lives to be what our children needed the most. After all, wouldn’t anyone?

Our children are not handbags. They are amazing human beings (even though I call them chickens!) We are the lucky ones. I didn’t expect it, but eventually I got the hugs and “I love you”s and all of the original fulfillment of being “mamma.” I never expected it, but I had hope.

We aren’t special people. We are just people. We just do the right thing for our kids. I’m nobody’s perfect mom. There is no such thing. There is no perfect child either. At least, we try and do the right things for our kids. We keep herding these chickens. That is why family is about. Families are imperfect by nature. Love itself is always perfect.

*If you have ever considered foster care or adoption, I encourage you to start your own adventure today!

**Namea have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. 

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