Saturday, March 29, 2014

Parenting A Former Foster Child: Like Learning To Ride A Bike. You Fall A Lot, But Then You Learn How To Ride.

My good friends were in town this week and I finally got to meet their soon-to-be adopted son.  I am happy to say that he is being adopted out the foster care system  Yay, one more child out!

After playing at the park for awhile, we were heading to dinner.  Never missing an opportunity, I said to my kids, "He was adopted, too!  Isn't that cool?"

(They haven't finalized yet.  But, it was easier to say it this way, so there you go.)

My kids were playing their 2DS' and Lizzie, apparently, wasn't as inspired as I was to discuss the topic.  So, she said, "I know that he was a doctor!!" 

I told her that I said adopted, not doctor, and pointed out that she could drop the attitude. ;) She then started asking questions about me being adopted.  I explained that I wasn't and that there were different ways to become a parent.  This led me to believe that she hadn't paid much attention to the conversation that we had a couple of weeks ago about the same topic, but I'll cut her some slack because she's five. ;)

(And if you want to read about that conversation, here you go!) ----

So, yeah, he is being adopted.  His parents are excited, exhausted, happy, and frustrated.  And, it's totally normal. 

I've had many facebook conversations that involve my friend saying "He did this..."  and me saying "Oh, yeah.  William did that, too." 

And, watching this child, last night, and how they interacted with him was like looking at a page in my personal history book.

I believe the chapter was entitled "William, Stop Peeing Everywhere?!"  

He and William have a lot of things in common, but I will not go into all of that because their little boy's story is not my story to tell.  But, I'll say this, I remember the frustration that walked hand-in-hand with Willian's issues with peeing.

He would do it because he couldn't hold it or when he could but didn't want to.  He would do it to regain some control or when he felt out of control.  He would do it when he was bored or when he was mad or when he was happy or when he was distracted.  That along with his tantrums, destructive behaviors, lying, and was very frustrating.  I knew that it was all very typical of former and current foster children.  But, I also knew that it was making me crazy. 

I got mad a lot.  I got sad a lot.  I yelled a lot.  I sent him to bed early a lot.

I wish that someone had told me that it was ok that I felt like I didn't know what I was doing.  Or that it wasn't horrible that I had an easier time bonding with Antwan who was just a baby.  Because, adding the guilt to all of it made it that much harder. 

Actually, Brian did try.  But, when you're drowning in bodily fluids, tantrums, and lies when all you, unfairly, want is for this kid to get over his issues and just be happy and normal; it's hard to listen.

Can you tell that last night brought it all back to me?

Long story short, it worked out.  Today, William has the occasional incident.  He pulled his hair out of his head, just a couple of weeks ago.  But, that's another story.

But, all in all, he's doing ok.  And, he loves me.  And, he forgives me.  (I know, because we've talked about it.)

Last night, I watched my friend/new dad struggle with the same things that I did.  After an accident in the bathroom that may or may not have been an actual accident, I looked at the frustration in his  eyes.  I saw how he felt that he was on his last rope.  And, I saw their son sit, sadly.  And, it was hard to watch.  But, it was also so familiar.   

I made (hopefully) helpful, but probably annoying statements about how it will all be ok and how this is what we went through with William.  I had a heart-to-heart with their little boy which involved him looking at me blankly while I asked him questions and tried to get to the root of the problem.  Yes, I fancied myself quite the amateur psychiatrist.  But, he's surely had his fill of virtual strangers trying to get to know him and I should probably just stick to blogging.

Anyway, as I watched all of this and after the non-breakthrough talk, I looked over at William.  I was overwhelmed with guilt for all the ways that I screwed up with him.  But, I was also overwhelmed at the awareness that he's a pretty awesome kid.  If he survived being my guinea pig in the whole parenting gig than I know that their son will too. 

While I wished that I could stop them from making the same mistakes that I did.  I also realized that I couldn't.  And, you know what, that's ok.  It's all part of it.

It's really hard to be a new parent.  Heck, it's hard to be a parent.  I made tons of mistakes with William.  I made mountains out of molehills and lost my cool when I wanted to wow him with my patience.  But, he's ok and their boy will be too.  Because they are committed to him and they are really good people.

So, if I could say one thing (ok, maybe a few things) to my friends and anyone else who is going through this, I would say this....

It gets better!

(Wow, this really is a wonderfully multi-purpose statement!) 

It's ok to make mistakes.  It's ok to wish it was easier, but it's also important to understand that your child is making it as easy as he can.  And, that might not be very easy. 

But, hang in there.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive your child.  Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Because, in the end and along the way, you will have those amazing moments that you imagined and some that you never saw coming.



  1. As an adoptive mom, this post resonated with me so much! Thank you for your honesty!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read! :)

  2. Wow, after a really rough couple of weeks (and a bald spot that looks very similar to the one in your photo) I can't tell you how much it means to read this post! Thank you so much for sharing. And even if it isn't immediately helpful, it is always nice to hear "it works out" ;)

    1. Sorry to hear that you've had a couple of rough weeks, hope that things have settled down. Thank you for reading! P.S. What is it with kids and hair?? ;)

  3. Oh my, this is very familiar! Our daughter came to us from foster care when she was 6, and we finalized the adoption last year--she was 11 (lots of delays from the state, which is not a very good parent!). We've been through the accidents, and also a hair-pulling incident when she was 7, and stressed over a situation with her birth family. We've been through the lying and the stealing. But we love this child tremendously, and though we are all still struggling on some days, we can look back and see the huge strides she has made. Redemption is not quick or easy, but it is so worth it. We started out selfishly--I just wanted a child--but this journey has enlarged our hearts, and also educated us about the tremendous challenges facing kids in foster care. On the days when I still want to scream, I think about what she would be facing if she were still in her birth home, and then I am humbled, and grateful for her safety, and I get back to the work God has given me to do. Keep up the good work!

    1. Wow, thank you for sharing this! Sounds like you have been through a lot. Congratulations on finally finalizing and good luck with everything! Thank you for reading. :)