Life. IS. Hard....and then there is Foster Care
By Kara Curfman, Foster and Adoptive mom, Post-Adopt case manager
October 25, 2015
Life. How can it be so hard and so good and so overwhelming and so beautiful and so devastating all in one. Those words can't coexist together. Oh dear ones...I know you are ready to save the world. You are called to the orphan, maybe international adoption or foster care and you will truly save the world one child at a time...or a sibling group of 3 or 4. And then you wait and wonder when your cape will arrive AND the super powers. They never do. Not the way you envision them. They are subtle. They are whispers from heaven and not in the moments you expect.
Lest you wonder, lest you say, "You make it all look easy"....my life. is. not. easy. Everything is hard! Getting up in the morning and dealing with children from trauma backgrounds is hard. Clothes are never what they want, even if they picked them the night before, shoes disappear, beds don't get made, breakfast brings on tears, backpacks got emptied after you secured them for the night. And then there is. the hair. This white mama has some serious hair to contend with. The same white mama who cannot use a hair dryer or a flat iron on her own hair has to work miracles with afros and yarn braids and frizzy messes, and enough products to sink the titanic and cost more than my first car....all before 6:50 when the bus arrives. At that point, I want to go back to bed, but that is only the first 2 out the door.
Next are the endless amounts of school work and signed releases and fund raisers and dance and dogs and broken things. This is our first year not homeschooling so there are lots of firsts here. Endless broken things. Yes, I know there is a birthday party this Saturday and no, I don't have a gift yet and honestly can't seem to find my way to Walmart.
What about therapy, and therapy and then therapy? Who has therapy today? Finding trauma informed counseling services is always a challenge. Doctor's appointment anyone? Oh if I need to re-schedule it will be 6 years? Wow. No problem I can get to the Emergency room with the one with 105 temp later and you have a plug for a breathing treatment for the other one right? You don't have a problem with throw up do you? We'll be there for our eye appointment. We can't wait 6 years. This child has broken the 5th pair of glasses this year.
Attachment disorder? Extreme tantrums? Can't be told, "no", Pees and poops anywhere when angry? No problem. Sounds like a child that needs a strong hand, huh? That's what YOU think. Don't judge when I don't tear into my child for that fit. When I hold them in the floor of Walmart while the fit subsides. A good spanking, you say? If only it were that simple. If only that would work. In this case, it would be further abuse tacked on the endless cycle that already began when a tiny little being was formed in a mother's womb who lived in chaos, in abuse, in fear, in a state of mental illness, in a state of some sort of high all the time. This is not a normal little "fit". No haters please. Let me hold her and pray the demons chasing her will let go in time as I learn to re-build a precious mind. Isn't the brain a glorious thing? Capable of being rebuilt with extreme patience and lots of love and training and retraining. Oh, you can't possibly believe all that "trauma" business? Well, dear one, walk a mile in my shoes.
Where do you come in? The one waiting, waiting to save the world and add to your family? Maybe for the first child or maybe after having a biological child or two? What does this have to do with you? Be careful. Very careful. Don't hurry. Don't try to save the world. It's bigger than you. God wants you to learn to listen to the soft voice. My life is hard. If I had taken every child I would have 2 other siblings of one of my children and a few more and more than likely I would be in a fetal position. Permanently.
Things are different now. I have little control over anything. My once clean and organized house is in a state of always being organized. My once great plans are somewhere in the back of my mind. I forget birthdays and surgeries and needs of so many. I don't mean to. It's not that I don't care. I am simply trying to figure out how to find matching shoes and my toothbrush and how to calm the fears that lurk so deep. I do think of you. I do wish we could sit in a little coffee shop and share a laugh now and then. I miss you. Really I do. I miss when life was easier and yet my life has so much joy now. Different joy. In fact you wouldn't see the joy in it at all. It's in the laughter of a child who struggles to laugh. The child who is now about to walk away from me without terror overtaking her. Joy in having all of the clothes on my body being clean when I put them on and if they match, that is a bonus.
Be careful. Don't take on too much at first. Satan loves to lurk in those vulnerable moments and he will seek to destroy you. He will tear you from limb to limb. Take one foster child at a time or 2. Don't take on a sibling group with significant trauma because you want to make a difference if you are not prepared....none of us are prepared. Let me say it again, YOU ARE NOT PREPARED! You must take care of you and you must take care of the love of your life or satan will destroy you. Do the children need you? Certainly? But if they destroy you then no child will benefit from your love and care and more likely your will traumatize them further even with the best of intentions. You are needed in foster care for the long haul. Years. There is always another child and another one and another one. Is this not a fallen world? Know when to say, "no". If you don't you have much to lose and so does the child or children. My life is hard. If you think otherwise then you don't know me very well. I DO choose to laugh rather than cry, but that does not mean it is easy. It may simply mean I have had a glass of wine. Often I make a choice. I don't want to cry so laughter seems the better choice.
Be careful about saving the world. You were not created to do so. Only Christ was called to this task. You were simply called to obedience and that may be simpler than you think. Or it may be bigger. God did not call me to an easy life. Money is always a struggle. There is never enough and there is always something broken. My newest car is 8 years old, I think, and none of them have less that 130K miles. Praise the Lord though. We own them all. Not much to brag about, I know, but at this income bracket, it's a miracle. Most of our clothes are used (I have found some great treasures at Hope's Closet this year), things are just broken. That is all there is to it. And yet, my life is beautiful. I re-modeled a kitchen for the first time in my life. Okay it's not all new, but it's pretty great! Most of the wallpaper is removed in our new to us house. Oh boy...some of it is simply scary! I have all new appliances! Wowsers! That is so awesome. I have so so so much!
Don't hurry. Don't rush! Pray hard! Be very careful that it is the voice of the Lord you hear.
You know those stories about young children destroying homes in one fit. Those stories are true. I used to think those were isolated incidents. They're not. They happen every day. Those children still need love, but maybe that is not for you. I don't say these things to scare you, but to make you think. And pray. And evaluate. And think, again. Now march forward. Be willing to be flexible. REALLY. Flexible. Okay, so what you thought flexible meant...tear it up, shred it and learn what flexible really means.
Don't miss this one. Reunification in foster care is the goal. I promise you dear friend if Jesus were walking in flesh he would be sitting in the office of CPS loving those bio families.....so LOVE them. Love the abuser, love the drug addict. Love the unlovable! This is not optional. Love them fiercely and pray for them to change. You are holding or WILL hold THEIR child. This is not a task to take lightly? Could you parent them better? Who gets to decide that? God brought that child into their life and you are only there in the interim. You are the middle mom. Will you adopt? Maybe. Maybe not. YOU are not the focus. This will almost break you. Trust me. I am broken. This is where God is. He is with the broken. Don't miss this! Love them. Be willing to place the child back in their arms. You will heal. Your heart won't be the same, but honestly it will be better.
You will understand loss.
You will understand unconditional love.
You will know what it is like to feel like you can't breathe for the pain.
You will understand what real prayer is. What a real cry out to God is.
You will know what it is to be held.
You will heal.
You will love again.
You will NEVER be the same.
Oh yeah, remember that mini PRIDE class you took if you are becoming a foster parent? That isn't even going to scratch the surface of what you are about to experience. Not the bad and certainly not the joy. Are you confused yet? Yeah, me too. This is what I can tell you. I LOVE my life, but IT. IS. HARD. Do not ever underestimate the power of connection. Real connection. Your life is about to change and you can never look back. You can never un-see what you will see. If you have one bit, one tiny part that doubts, then table the whole thing until you feel the peace only God can send you. We often miss the voice of God so listen carefully. He doesn't write it in the sky. It will be subtle. It's simply HIS way.
Love is not enough. It makes a nice plaque, but it will take more than that. IF love were enough why would Jesus have to die like he did?