Tonight I sat on the couch with my broken little girl and held her while she cried. Tonight we watched a movie and held a puppy while we waited for the grief to subside. Tonight, once again, I told her that it’s OK to hurt.
I stood in the aisle holding those little shoes and flashed back to the exploited little girl who came home to me four years ago. I tried them on Alyssa then took them off, disappointed that they fit. When my husband returned from his wandering, I showed the shoes him, expecting an equally distraught reaction. I hoped that he would at least think that she was far too young to be prancing through the church in half inch heels. Instead he questioned whether she would fall wearing them. I explained what the shoes represented but they didn’t mean that to him.
Someone asked me recently if I thought that everyone who wants children should consider adoption. I am absolutely an advocate for adoption but I found myself pausing before I answered. The problem is that sometimes when we promote adoption and highlight the happy families it can create, we gloss over the darker side. The truth is that every tearjerker story about a family being brought together starts with another story of absolute devastation. Our children are not simply gifted to us, they are taken or abandoned or orphaned first. Sometimes the love of a new family helps to heal the wounds of that loss; sometimes it isn’t enough.
Maintaining relationships with birth families is complicated. For us, it goes beyond the occasional visit and shared pictures. I want my kids to have family traditions with each of their families.
Family and love were foreign concepts for my daughter when I met her. She had been bounced around between unhealthy homes and shelters. She had experienced loss and hunger and absolute fear. She had no reason to suspect when she came here that our home would be any different. Even after our adoption, Alyssa would ask several times each day if I was still her mom. She does that less now but that fear of abandonment still rears its ugly head sometimes when she gets in trouble and she goes back to being the scared little girl who believes no one really wants her. In those moments she occasionally asks if I will still be her mom as if I might disappear while she takes a timeout in the corner. “Always and forever” I tell her. “No matter what you do, we are family and family is forever.”
Many parents of kids with epilepsy are passionate about the push for medical marijuana because we understand the cost of every delay. Our children are dying while they wait for legalization. We have lost several children to seizures while they waited for their last hope to be approved by politicians who were more concerned with their own agendas than in letting us have access to a lifesaving plant. That is devastating and unacceptable. It is equally appalling that we would deny other parents the chance to save their children.
This summer I took a brutal cross cultural course as part of my master’s program. The class required 15 – 20 hours of reading per week along with several projects. It was exhausting. However, there was one project that I really got into: the cultural self-portrait. We had to create some type of art project that captured who we…
We didn’t intend on a special needs adoption. We asked for healthy kids but epilepsy came hard and fast anyway and left our family reeling.
Fostering is hard. This is a slow and hard process and there are no guarantees. We all have tough moments but our general attitude has to be that we want what is best for the kids even if that hurts us. I believe with all my heart that every child deserves to have someone that will be devastated to see them go. If you can be that person who opens your heart knowing it will be broken, then maybe fostering is for you. But if you can’t, then you should look for another way to help kids or grow your family.