A New Kind of Normal….Or is it?
December 16, 2014
by Kara Curfman, Foster and Adoptive mother, Post-Adopt Caseworker
We have finally ventured into "older" foster children. Our precious "Blu" arrived late one Wednesday night 2 weeks ago. When we licensed over 5 years ago we stuck with 0 to 3 because we home school and didn't want to mix school and all the things that go with it in the mix. After a couple of years we decided that wouldn't be a big deal and changed our license to 0 -15 and now 0-17, but we never had older placements. We just didn't get those calls. Maybe because we only had 1 spot and older children typically come with siblings, who knows. After our adoption on National Adoption Day this year, November 7, 2014 we decided to only take age 6 and up. Have 3 little ones was enough. The past summer with a baby in the mix it was hard. Not terrible, but just hard. Plus our youngest, yet to be adopted at that time was all over him. Poking and pulling and wanting him to play and not understanding at all why he just laid there all day. It was time for us to venture out. We actually waited this time. Kind of weird since placements have come on top of placements until now, but we are seasoned and this was not a big deal to us.
In waltzes this adorable 11 year girl so full of life and joy with a smile that can light a room. She is happy, loves to please and is very social making friends easily and fitting in quickly as if she were always here. Don't misunderstand, we DO know there is a honeymoon period. This is NOT our first rodeo. It's still hard to imagine that her life to date has been very different than our biological kids. She has seen instability, has learned things that the average American kid hasn't had to learn. You wouldn't know this though by her smile. She has adapted. She has coping skills, both good and bad and works well over all of the terrain in her life...sort of. Or I should say, on the outside. She loves easily in appearance and wants so much to fit in and be loved. On the inside, there lurk the secrets, the pain, the coping skills.
Now I sit with her while her body rages with fever. I am a stranger. She has to trust me. There is no alternative. She aches both mentally and physically and yet she doesn't even know what she wants or how to ask for it. She yearns for something else and yet she doesn't. She easily melts into my arms and looks at me with eyes questioning everything. Those sweet gray eyes want to know if she can trust me. Will I really be there? Will I care? What will happen now? How vulnerable. Can you imagine your 11 year old in this position? Can you imagine your 11 year old SELF in this position. What if you just want to go home? What if home scares you to death and yet at least it's familiar. How can you have so little control of your life? What about these strangers with name badges? What on earth is a CASA worker? She says she is only in it for YOU. What does that even mean? The counselor. The nurse. The doctor. Another name badge person. An ad litem. What on earth is that? Who else is going to ask me questions? Why can't I stay at my school with MY friends. Why are so many people staring at me and meeting me and acting like they know me. REALY know me. No one really knows me. Who can I trust? Who will be there next week? Why can't I have control? What is control? Is this what life is all about? I am so so tired and feel so bad and now I am tired of thinking.
Can you imagine?
What about being a child? What about running into your mom's arms after school. Eating a snack and talking about your day. Throwing your back \pack in your room. The room you have always known with YOUR stuff in it. Stuff you have had for a long time. Not all new stuff. What about riding your back up and down the street until dad comes home?
Instead you are picked up from a strange school in a strange car going to a strange house. All that is familiar to you is a blue shirt and a pair of old jeans that are too tight. Then there's the old tennis shoes you've had for a while. They're dirty and old and too big, but they are yours. The only other thing you own is a bag of pokemon cards and you're not really sure why you even have them, but they are yours. (Some of these situations and details are made up, but parallel what is real. I do this to protect her identity).
Now the strange closet is full of new clothes. Nice clothes, but they are so new and don't feel like yours. There's a great stuffed animal, but it's also new. The bed is unfamiliar and so is everything else. This is macaroni and cheese? We just eat it from the box. Why is yours different? Broccoli? I never eat broccoli. In fact we usually eat in front of the TV and this family seldom even turns it on. Why is this happening? What will happen next week? Can things go back to normal? My normal? What is normal any more?