November is national adoption month! I don’t know that I can talk adoption without foster care, so forgive the mention of both. I pray that by being transparent with our journey plants seeds of possibility in other hearts. If you are on the fence, here are a few things I have learned:
The decision to adopt doesn’t just affect adoptees, but every life lived alongside of them. It is my job to teach every child in my care how to voice their individual needs and train myself on how to do the same. You will never be sorry for teaching your family how to communicate personal needs and boundaries. Safe families are created when there is unity and trust, learn to speak the same language. Trust is a vital part of this process.
You will never be fully prepared for the amount of emotion you will experience. From parental termination to the celebration of adoption you will cry, laugh, hurt, and cry some more. It will crush your heart to see the pain of a mother walking away while simultaneously planting love as you step in. Don’t allow yourself to judge anyone or any situation. You don’t know as much as you think. If you aren’t sure what to do, do the thing that scares you the most. Hope is a vital part of this process.
Be kind to yourself, Don’t be hard on yourself
You will have the tendency to be very hard on yourself saying more times than I would Like to admit “is this normal, should I feel this way?” I will tell you now no one prepares you for the warfare you stepped into. You will experience things you haven’t before, even as an experienced parent. This is different so be kind to yourself and your family as they adjust. Forgiveness and mercy to yourself and others are a vital part of this process.
Choose to stay in it, Don’t give up
One of my children screamed. I am not talking about the normal baby cry, I am talking the type of scream you want to cry yourself when you hear it. It was awful and at times I felt so inadequate to help. I was so worried we did something wrong or wouldn’t be able to help, but then something happened. We had a moment one day when the screaming became less and something clicked. Our family began to work as a team not segregated individuals. For some this happens immediately, for others it takes longer. Don’t beat yourself up, it will happen but only if you stay in the game. Love and patience are vital part of this process.
Ignore and Silence Negativity
People say stupid things and others will try to have very inconsiderate conversations. I was recently asked “what do you call your adopted child?”. I responded “boy or girl?” She said “girl.” My response, “Then I believe daughter is appropriate.” I am sure a few people are ready to go fight that lady after reading that, my advice is simple, don’t. Don’t let their ignorance rob you of your peace. Yet again this is a wonderful Opportunity to love EVERYONE around you harder. Peace is a vital part of this process.
Seek God’s Help and Wisdom for Parenting
Every child is different. All 5 of mine are like night and day, don’t expect your children adopted or biological to be the same.. they won’t. Breathe, pray, and ask Holy Spirit who they are and how to parent them. I have one child that I still struggle to fully understand, but everyday gets better for both of us. Just don’t give up. Wisdom is a vital part of this process.
It Is Worth It
You need to know, it is worth it. Every second of fostering, every moment of uncertainty. Neither my husband nor I contributed to their conception, but the dreams we have for them surpass any natural DNA we could have contributed. They are a part of us and us them. When Kenna (adopted daughter) was 2 weeks old I had this thought. I need to enjoy every second and not worry, if I do I won’t remember any of the good just the bad. From that Moment on I made myself take pictures and do everything I would if she were biologically mine. Sure it was hard to wonder what if, but at the end of the day if she would have gone back to her biological home, I was left with the enjoyment of the time I had with her. Every child is worth your inconvenience, whatever that inconvenience looks like to you.
Dealing with Biological Families
Their biological family isn’t scary. In my family we have set boundaries regarding relationships but we also follow the leading of Holy Spirit. My girls will know where they came from, but they will Be empowered to go further, same goes for my biological children. I don’t feel as though I am a stopping point for any of them. My job is teach my children how to forgive those who hurt them and extend that same gift to everyone around them. I pray they learn love without judgement because the truth is judgement is easy, love is hard. Love hopes all things and that hope is their birthright. Faithfulness is a vital part of this process.
The only way to combat worry, doubt, fear, anger, whatever you are facing is to be thankful. Most days around here are a whirlwind of stuff, but I watch my family experience supernatural peace when I am thankful. It is amazing how much of a mirror are children are to the situations we are in. We all fail, goodness I do multiple times an hour, but don’t allow a heart of complacency to be your excuse. Choose to be thankful in every circumstance. Thankfulness is a vital Part of this process.
Slow Down, Stay Humble and Seek Support
Finally if you are a foster parent my advice is simple, slow down. Treat everyone on the case as important and like a human being. Don’t run them down behind their backs, don’t blame them. Sure some caseworkers aren’t amazing, but let me tell you, we had ones that loved and cared about us. Looking back I can see it wasn’t just because they had to, but I pray they felt supported and loved by every one of us. Sow seeds of trust and you will be given that back. They aren’t your enemies, slow down. Humility is a vital Part of the process.
If you are considering fostering or adopting I am encouraging you to seek support and community. Don’t let “I couldn’t give them back” be your excuse. The truth is none of us thought we could either. I promise, being in their life for a month or forever won’t change the way they receive your love.
#nationaladoptionmonth #dontbeafraidtosayyes #fostercare