I received an e-mail from a foster mother who was very distressed. I could feel her desperation and urgency. Amber and her husband John have two foster children, ages three months (Sally) and three years (Rod). Rod will soon be leaving to go back to his biological mother. Amber and John have plans to adopt the three month old, Sally. Without knowing any history of either one of the parents, think about the triggers for fear. Here’s just a few. Grief of Rod leaving. Fear of how his biological mother will treat him. Self doubt that they did mpt do enough for Rod. Being divided between Sally and Rod and how to give both of them what they need. Feeling of failure with Rod because he’s been very dys-regulated due to leaving. Pressure from agencies as to why Rod is struggling. Being criticized because they do not follow “tradition” parenting of time out and consequences. How can we be good enough parents for Sally when we failed with Rod? Emotional distance in the marriage. Will we be trusted with other foster children?
All of these would be normal triggers for the most well adjusted foster family who has done a lot of healing work. This couple is very young in age. They have not been married very long. Both admit that they have unresolved issues of their own. I am encouraged that they are brave enough to take a closer look at themselves. The last line of the e-mail stated that “We are exhausted and want our life back.” How many times have you said that? That thought has crossed my mind and my child is grown and has been on her own for 18 years. I am not writing about this to be judgmental or critical. This couple and all foster/adoptive families face tremendous challenges. They face fear day in and day out. I am writing to raise awareness of these challenges. But most importantly, I am writing to encourage you and others to give these families unconditional support and encouragement. They need our love and non-judgmental support. It would be easy to say, “well, they shouldn’t have adopted if they knew they had issues.” “What’s wrong with them, didn’t they know this would happen when they adopted?” Please don’t go there with anyone who has opened their homes and hearts to a child who needs a family. Love them where they’re at and join them in their journey. To find out more about fear and adoption, review Bryan Post’s book “From Fear to Love” - Parenting Difficult Adopted Children at http://bit.ly/oZ5uIO