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View Diary: My July 4th in prison, or what it really takes to be a foster family (141 comments)

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  •  The Full Time Job of Fostering (7+ / 0-)

    As a parent who adopted 2 'broken' children (6 1/2 and 2 years old), I know your journey hasn't been an easy one.

    And, you had time, money and system savvy many foster parents don't.

    Our children are likewise the beneficiaries of parents with means, time, education and perseverance.

    Our children are now 15 and 11 years old.  Only now can I breathe a semi sigh of relief that they'll succeed in life (I define success as being happy, healthy, ethical, responsible, dependable, kind, compassionate, empathetic, trusting, respectful and no longer a victim).

    While our children suffered from neglect and abuse prior to adoption, they were shielded from children who had not.  So, they didn't really know how bad their lives were.  

    Their abuse actually kicked in AFTER we adopted them and enrolled them in public school.  The cruelty of the other children (and school faculty) was arguably more damaging than what they previously endured.  

    I took control by home schooling the kids 6 to 12 weeks out of the school year.  I still wanted them to have social experiences and not grow up in a 'hamster ball,' but I also wanted to give them one-on-one educational instruction and unconditional love and patience (and a safe haven to ask questions without fear of being called 'stupid') for part of the school year.  

    That has been a successful combo, but it has meant longer hours.  After all, I also have a full time job.  Happily, I'm able to work from my home.  

    Two Roads is correct when he says this endeavor "is not be undertaken lightly."  You have to be the squeaky wheel; you have to be the parent, shrink, teacher, chauffeur, cook, etc. on top of whatever 'professional' assistance your child receives.  

    And, you must understand that this endeavor is NOT a vanity project.  There will be times when your child tells you how much you suck.  Because, they can create very romantic versions of how wonderful their life would be with their biological parents (which Two Roads details).  You just have to remember that kids sometimes tell their own biological parents they suck, even under the best circumstances.  

    The compassion and perseverance of Two Roads can NOT be underestimated.  He (informally) adopted an older boy with lots of problems.  There have been moments when I've been so exhausted from dealing with 'experts' and schools and just teenage angst that I'm in awe of what Two Roads willingly took on.

    I'm always told that I'm a miracle worker.  I'm told by doctors (who once told me my children would forever be 'challenged') that I made chicken salad out of chicken shit.  Yes, the power of socialization is readily seen in my children, but that's the result of a lot of love, time, dedication and yes, unfortunately, money.

    •  A hearty second (6+ / 0-)

      What you describe is so true.  

      And then you get the moments of grace.

      My son wrote us a song.  I offer the first verse to all the adoptive parents of older kids:

      I come bearing baggage stacked
      Full of broken promises, hopes and trash
      If you don't mind, I'll just unpack
      You have forever to say so.

      Cause its the endeavor that brings us ever closer
      and if you don't mind I'll endeavor forever...

      Thanks for endeavoring.

      •  Speechless. (4+ / 0-)

        Not an easy thing to do to me but that poem did it.

        In the fullest sense of the word: awesome.

        The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. - H.L. Mencken

        by two roads on Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 08:55:29 AM PDT

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      •  thank you, canoedog, very powerful. nt (4+ / 0-)

        "Bigger change will come with bigger Democratic majorities. Diminishing Democratic accomplishments is a losing strategy." sja May Peace Prevail

        by revgerry on Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 09:40:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  LOTS of Moments of Grace! (5+ / 0-)

        My initial comment was to acknowledge the effort and energy involved with fostering/adopting children.  I wanted to emphasize it shouldn't be done capriciously.  

        When we met our children, they were malnourished and utterly deprived of ANY stimulation.  The 2-year old had NEVER walked (left to languish in a crib on his back).  The 6 1/2 year old was illiterate in every possible aspect.  

        They were practically feral.

        And, they were angry.

        They also had horrid skin and teeth, and their hair fell out.

        But, they had a light behind their eyes.  And, that made us blind to all the other issues.

        All I can say is never underestimate the power of good nutrition, good sleep, exercise, doctor/dentist/orthodontist/skin care and hugs and kisses.  

        That got us through the initial hurdles.  That was actually easy part.

        Building trust was the next hurdle.

        If you can make through that stage, it's downhill (with bumps) from there.  

        And, through all the stages, the Moments of Grace are omnipresent!

        Lastly, I want to give a big shout out to all the foster/adoptive parents out there.  I swear that our public schools improve because of our voices.  We've had to work harder to have our children, and we've had to endure lots of bureaucratic red tape.  Schools don't intimidate us.  In fact, we often know more about school laws and policies than parents with biological parents.   And, if any children need any extra help, we know how to help their parents find it.

        In a way, I'm a "mom" to numerous children in our school because I make sure they are never left out.  I think that's how many foster/adoptive parents feel.

        We see Moments of Grace in EVERY child.

      •  That is so beautiful! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        two roads

        May I offer quotes from my foster-adopt son, his ages 3 years 10 months, to 5 and a half.
        Too young to write poetry, but:

        5 days in home:
        "I don't like love! Do you like love?"

        2 months in home, barely age 4:
        "I want to tell you the story of how I came here.
        I came here because I needed you."

        10 months in home:
        "That's why I came here."
        [me: Why?]
        "For the love."

        10 months in home: He screamed "I don't love you any more!" on being asked to do a time out in his room. When he came out he said:
        "If I don't love you, I will love you anyways."

        12 months in home:
        "Did I ever tell you that you're so wonderful that I should never leave here?"

        16 months:
        Me: "We have so many things to do today!"
        Child: And we have to go to the place so you can adopt me!"

        The State moved after 18 months, with the adoptive social worker telling people she thought we were not bonded. Not bonded, riiight.

        However the family she moved him to gave up on him in less than 6 months, and he had to move again. Two hits for the social worker: lying about our relationship, and choosing a family who couldn't handle him.

        This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

        by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 03:07:01 PM PDT

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    •  Thank you Rainy Day, I too raided a grandson (5+ / 0-)

      of trauma, and from age 7 on....reactive attachment disorder and PTSD combined  to make him keep his emotional distance with frequent rages and meltdowns, while being at the same time so dependent I couldn't shower without his screaming from the other room about something he absolutely had to have right that second.

      He is now almost 21, living in another state with a girlfriend (talk about miracles, she brought out his loving hidden self), a full time job and a chance I could barely imagine for him even three years ago.

      "Bigger change will come with bigger Democratic majorities. Diminishing Democratic accomplishments is a losing strategy." sja May Peace Prevail

      by revgerry on Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 09:39:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Anyone who thinks an hour therapy/week will heal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      two roads

      a child like this is out of their minds.

      Yet the state frequently implies that. "Just love them, and the therapist will see them weekly." Not true! You have to be a therapist, a therapeutic parent, whether trained for that or not, about 27 hours a day.

      And you need GOOD support to be able to pull that off.

      This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

      by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 02:45:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This book describes the road to a T: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      two roads

      Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children (Paperback)
      by Daniel A. Hughes

      Truly amazing account of what it's really like. Tells story of one 5-year-old who enters foster system, tells it from viewpoint of social worker, (newish), several foster families, her eventual therapeutic foster mom, and the therapist who teams with that mom.

      It's the only book I've ever seen that a lay person could read and have a clue what the adoptive parent of a traumatized child goes through. Was entirely affirming for me to read, as well.

      This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

      by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 03:43:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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