I am preparing for my sessions this week on adoption and foster care at the National Foster Parents Association Conference. Like always when I am preparing to speak, I immerse myself in information, books, case studies and recall all of my own personal experience as well as the experience of the families I have worked with. As a result I have all my stuff spread out.
As I spent time with my oldest son (8yo) cooking dinner today, once again he proved to be wise beyond his years! He was adopted when he was 2 and has no recollection (consciously) of life before us.
He looks at the table where I had a Fostering Families Today Magazine, which had pictures of waiting children from all over the country posing for pictures with smiles and hope. He turns to me and says, "Mom, I'm confused, why are they smiling. They look like they are ok in the picture but they are not. I wonder if they want to cry." He noticed their names on the pictures and started praying that they would find families like he did. Being adopted himself, he understands the tears. Being his mom, I understand as well.
That folks, is why I always say adoptive parenting is so much different. It is an intentional mission to nurture, help heal and guide in a way that you may not have to do for a biological child. When a child is separated from their birth family even if they are an infant, a trauma has occurred. Anything adverse that happens after that is insult to injury.
Foster and Adoptive parents you have an important job. DO NOT TAKE IT LIGHTLY. Do not expect immediate turn arounds or for them to be perfect. Trauma has a way of changing how they look at the world. Roll your sleeves up and do what it takes to give them what they need, when they need it!
I am so thankful for children who share our family passion for foster children and orphans. My oldest son who with such a tender heart that he can see their pain through the smiles. My oldest daughter who vows to ONLY adopt......even though we tell her 9 years old is a bit young to make such an important decision:) I then my 5 year old want me to adopt 6 more boys. We are adopting 3 more children this year. In a few months, I will be the mother of 6 delightful individuals with purpose to fulfill. I promise to always be sensitive enough to know, like my son, if the smiles I see are real or if their are tears behind them. We promise and purpose to give them a happy and enjoyable life. We also understand that their early separation from their families will always be there. I promise to always hold them when there are tears!