Monday, June 22, 2009

Comments to Foster Families

As an adoptive mother who adopted from foster care, I get a lot of questions and remarks from people. Foster care and adoption are interesting subjects to most people, and certainly it’s one of my favorite things to talk about. I have been very blessed by this lifestyle, and am eager to talk about the things God has done in my life through it, and how our lives have been blessed by the new additions to our family.

There are only a few comments that make me uncomfortable, and I’d like to take this opportunity to educate anyone interested in how a foster/adopt parent thinks.

The first one is when people tell me how wonderful I am to have taken in ‘these children’ or ‘how blessed the children are that our family took them in’. I know it’s meant sincerely, and in all kindness. And I understand what the person means when they say this. I appreciate the intent behind that goes with the comment. I’m not insulted; rather, it’s the other way around. I have been given a compliment I don’t deserve. I know I am not wonderful. I enjoy raising children, which is why I became a foster mother in the first place. It’s a rare thing that I don’t fall head over heels in love with the children placed in my home. The main thing that helps me keep my sanity if they are returned is if I’ve had a chance to get to know the birth family, and to know that they love their children, and I have helped them become a more stable family unit, or have helped the children get to another more stable relative. But if the children are released for adoption, and I have loved them and bonded with them, and they have bonded with us, I just don’t see why they should have to leave us. I have had to come to terms with this in myself. I am a foster mommy, but I am a person who loves children, too. So I have to realize that, for myself, if a child is released for adoption, I want to keep them with me. I have invested much in them already. I love them. Rather than feel like a ‘wonderful person’, I feel like I am doing what God made me to do naturally, and that is love and raise children. I feel like God has blessed me with what I am able to handle at this point in my life. My three adopted children are healthy and amazingly beautiful. In fact, I feel like I have been so blessed with the easy ones, that I was recently rather shocked to learn that there are people who would not have taken two of the children I have, because they were exposed to drugs in the womb, and one of them was a little older when we adopted her. In loving them, I can’t imagine that matters and that everyone is not jealous of me!
So my answer to the statement that I am a wonderful person for taking these children, or how blessed the children are to have been adopted by us, is that no, we, the parents, are the blessed ones, and the children got the raw end of the deal by getting us as parents. This is said jokingly. We are a family, and we all belong to each other. We are not anymore wonderful than any other parents in the world. We are taking care of the children we have committed to raise. We are happy, thrilled, pleased, and blessed to do it.

Another comment, also meant well, but one that everyone needs to be educated not to say, is when people ask me various versions of “which ones are your real children?” Another way of putting it is, “How many are your own?” Again, this comment is never meant to sound ugly, but it hurts when the adopted children are in ear shot when it’s put this way. They are all my own, real children. I nurture and care for them all, in all the ways a real mommy does. I am the ‘real’ mommy to these ten ‘real’ children. Again, we are a family, we all belong to each other, and we are all real.

As a foster/adopt mother, I am always willing to answer any question asked nicely and with good intent. But it’s always a good idea to be sensitive that the children are not near enough to hear when questions are asked. The distinction between biological and adopted doesn’t need to be made where they can hear. Although I’m eager to talk about it, I am trying to learn this myself, and not bring up the subject when the children are around to hear anything.

So if you meet a foster/adopt parent, and you have questions, go ahead and ask, because if they are like me, it’s something they love to talk about. Just remember these few things, and enjoy learning about foster/adoption. Who know, you may be convinced yourself to take the plunge. There are a lot of little children in the world who need a home, either a temporary one, or a forever home. Mine is as full as the state will allow at this time. Someone needs to replace me for a while. Could it be you?

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