Yesterday we had a sibling visit with my children’s older brother (“brother by blood,” as my kids say). Casey was adopted by another couple, who went on to adopt a second teenager (God bless ’em) after raising two “home-grown” children.
In less than a year, Casey went from being the oldest to youngest in his family of four kids. And he would be the first to tell you it hasn’t been easy. “I get mad a lot,” he said to me last night over burgers.
Ironically, he knows in his head that he ‘s better off now. “If I had stayed with my parents, I would be dead by now,” he tells me. “It wasn’t safe. Not for any of us … not my brother, and not my sisters.” Even so, he yearns for his first family. I keep praying for him, hoping that he will let his guard down and return the love of his adoptive parents. Someday soon.
To their credit, Casey’s new family is hanging in there. It can’t be easy. But they have made a commitment to this boy, and by golly they are going to see it through. Each day, they will to love Casey, even when their hearts must break from all his mischief. I admire them more than I can say.
So much about foster parenting (and in some cases, adoptive parenting as well) is about keeping natural heart impulses in check in order to give the head free reign. As mothers, we want to nurture and tend to our children’s every need. We want them to be happy and well adjusted. We want them to be safe and well. We willingly put our own needs on hold at times in order to secure these things. And when reality doesn’t match the rosy image we have in our heads, we get discouraged.
Which is one of the many reasons God created husbands and wives to work together in the task of parenting. When I struggle in knowing the right way to handle a situation, I can count on my husband to help us both gain perspective. When I get in over my head, I know I can trust him because he is (a) the smartest man I know and (b) the kindest.
Oftentimes when a couple begins to explore adoption, one or the other is more enthusiastic. Usually, but not always, it is the husband who is the more reluctant partner, or the one who has more questions. When people have asked me what to do when this happens, my advice is simple: Get the answers you need so BOTH of you are comfortable with the decision.
Getting the perspective of a disinterested and impartial third party can also help. (The social worker may not be the best choice, as they have a vested interest in getting children placed in homes as quickly as possible … Even if you are unsure of whether you can handle the specifics.)
God also gives us pastors, and friends, and extended family — all of whom will need to be on your “support team” if and when you decide to add to your family through adoption or foster care. Ultimately YOU are the one who must make decisions for your family — and live with those decisions. But if you are conflicted, or confused, or uncertain … Striking that all-important balance is easier to accomplish by talking things over with a third party.
Don’t rush, or allow yourself to be talked into something you know in your heart is beyond your abilities to handle. Get the answers you need, and take all the time you need, until you and your spouse are in agreement. There are thousands of children in need of homes … and sadly, most of them will still be there a week or a month from now.
Trust God to bring your child to you when the time is right.
Very interesting article. I totally agree that couples need to work together in all situations of a relationship. Children are blessings in this world, many needing the love and care that many of have to offer.
fabulous post!! hubby and I were talking. There’s an article in our bulletin this week about taking in an orphan child as an exchange student of sorts for 4-6 weeks over the summer.
there’s also a big push for foster parenting this month.
as usual, we’re both right on the same page…same sentence…same word. (it’s the little stuff that we can’t agree on–go figure)
yes, it’s what we want..no, it’s not the right time.
the thing about snks is that it’s an emotional roller coaster. it’s much easier when he’s up while you’re down and vice versa….helps everyone keep it together.
Timing IS important in stuff like this. For example, I would not encourage a family to take in an older foster child (except perhaps one whose situation they knew very well, or were related to) if they have very young or developmentally challenged children in the home. Your first responsibility is the safety and wellbeing of YOUR kids. Once they reach the age that they are able to articulate their needs and concerns for themselves, children can benefit tremendously from this kind of short-term family extension. I”m going to be writing about that at CM/CE very soon.
In the meantime … have you considered “adopting” a child through a group such as the Christian Children’s Fund or Catholic World Mission? This kind of family outreach is a wonderful way to teach children about generous living.