When I first told that couple about the plants in my kitchen, they looked a bit confused. I explained though, that love is like bamboo. It really wants to survive but it needs some attention if it’s going to make it. When you first come to therapy or you tentatively hold out a proverbial olive branch after weeks, months or even years of fighting, that is like the first time you give those wilted plants the water they so desperately need.
If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you are likely very well aware of the divorce statistics for our cohort. Our marriages are significantly more likely to end than our peers with healthy children. It just seems cruel that the disorders that try to steal our children attack our marriages too. The truth is though we can experience stress levels similar to those of soldiers in combat and that puts strain on even the healthiest relationships. Our marriages aren’t doomed though. We just need to understand what we are facing and protect our relationships while we weather the storm.
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.
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.
Here’s the thing, foster parents DO NOT get paid to love our kids. We get paid to feed them and clothe them and be a stable force in their unstable lives. And, when I say we get paid I don’t mean that we make money. In some states, foster parents get as little as $300 a month to care for our charges. (Luckily Texas is higher because I spend more than that on gas in a month going to visits.) We’re asked to do a lot for those few dollars but we are never asked to love these children and really, if we were smart, we wouldn’t.