Sunday, June 24, 2007

Answering the Big Questions - Part Two

Warning: This post is 'long and winding' and may require a cup of coffee...

One of the most frequent questions and/or comments we receive relates to the impact that our foster-to-adopt choice has on Budding Author and Little Mommy. The question can be as simple and innocent as "How are your children handling the loss of Baby Girl?" or as imposing of a comment as "I could never do that to my children."

Another statement we've heard insinuates that somehow our children are going to 'miss out on things' because they have temporary foster siblings. The 'things' referred to relate both to material items and time with hubby and me. I don't begrudge the curiosity and sometimes boldness of these statements; in fact, it causes me great introspection about child-rearing and life.

I'll take the 3 areas separately, since our responses to each one are very different.

First, answering the question 'how are your children handling the loss of Baby Girl?'

The day that Baby Girl left was, perhaps, the most difficult day in my life. I think I can speak for my hubby and children that it was just as devastating to them. You simply cannot prepare yourself for an unexpected loss; not at any age. Even though we had a few week's notice, the loss was still unexpected because we had deceived ourselves into believing she would be ours forever.

Our children shed tears that day... they felt the very real pain of loss. And then we spent the day with art supplies and canvases at the kitchen table. They created some very abstract masterpeices and then, realizing Baby Girl was really not there, they cried again. We took them to a very special Japanese dinner and laughed a bunch! And as the evening closed, we prayed that God's hand would protect her and that she would be deeply loved by her brothers and new family. And we all cried.

The subsequent grief process has been fairly short for them. At first we heard "I miss Baby Girl" about 10 times per day; then 5 times a day; now, almost never. It has been a month since she left and their little souls have healed. They have been more than ready to welcome the children we've enjoyed... and they are overjoyed with Little Boy Blue. And Little Mommy continues to remind us that we are too heavily weighted in the boy category.

Second, addressing the 'I could never do that to my children' comment.

Hearing this comment could make me feel that we are somehow placing our children in a harmful, hurtful situation by introducing them to other children and allowing them to love other children when they could ultimately leave our home. It really surprised me at first. How could someone believe that we would intentionally place our children in harm's way?

We believe that we are giving our children a living opportunity to serve another human being in need. They have the first-hand chance to exercise their patience and flexibility when we get a phone call to take 2 children which will interfere with a birthday party. This is real life stuff.

Additionally, we pray that we are showing our children how to follow God even in very difficult situations. We are imperfect parents and people, and our children see how God can use even us when we really trust in His guidance.

Finally, they hear about redemption and love in the stories of Mommys and Daddys who make mistakes, yet ultimately get to raise their children. We do not expose them to all of the gorry details; however, they are curious and we give them the information that their hearts can handle.

Let me give you an example of the way Budding Author views our choices and how God provided a very personal encouragement to a little boy ...

Budding Author is an excitable, yet sensitive young man. He has enough energy for 20 people and, at the same time, feels very deeply about many things. One Thursday, we shared with him that Baby Girl would most likely be going to live with her 2 brothers in an adoptive family. On that Friday, Budding Author went to school and shared his concern at prayer time with his class of 8 other students and one very godly teacher. His precious teacher, without any knowledge of our news, looked him in the eyes and spoke truth into his heart. She told him that God had used him to be a wonderful big brother to Baby Girl. This struck Budding Author with great depth. The entire thing was now very personal to him... it was him doing the serving, him doing the loving... and what a fabulous job of it he does!

A few weeks later we were doubting our ability to get 'back in the saddle' and be a foster family. When we asked Budding Author if he thought we should be a foster family or just a straight adoption family, he, without hesitation, answered 'foster' family. We asked him 'Why?'... and he answered, "Because God has asked me to be a foster brother... this is what God wants us to do."

Our hearts are grateful that God blesses him, personally, and gives him the encouragement he needs through the voice of a willing, loving adult.


Thirdly, commenting upon well-intentioned observers who state that our children will be 'missing out' on things.

By things, some mean material possessions; others mean parental time. Are our children going to miss out on a new video game because of additional children? Honestly, they may miss out on the new video game, but not because of additional children. This question goes to the heart of setting priorities for a family. Are our priorities 'things' and accummulations of possessions?

One goal for our family is to encourage contentment and satisfaction with just what we have... and we have a lot! But our children do not have the latest and the greatest of everything. It is not a priority. Our family unit is the center, not each individual child. We believe this will serve them well when they enter a world that inundates young people with credit and the lure of the 'next best thing.' So, no, having foster brothers and sisters will not keep our children from 'things' they would not have had in the first place.

Moving in a different direction... are our children going to miss out on parental time? I would love to say no; however, the reality of a growing family is a reduced sense of down-time. The effort here has to be mine. We do have a unique education arrangement which allows for more family time... so, hopefully the effects will be outweighed by the blessings.

Whew! I've reached the end of my public thoughts on this matter... as always, I'd love your feedback, criticism, rotten tomatoes and so forth...

4 comments:

Steve Sensenig said...

I just recently started reading your blog after someone linked to it in the comments section of Cerulean Sanctum.

We have our home visit this evening for the next step in our licensing process through the DSS in our county here in NC. We have completed the 30 hours of training, the background check, etc. and now just have the home visit and more paperwork to do before getting licensed. They said that we should be done with the process within the next month or so.

Anyway, all that to say that I have really been enjoying your blog since finding it. Thank you for sharing your stories. I especially love that the stories you are sharing are very current and ongoing.

We would love to adopt, but are very open to fostering, as well, so it sounds like we're in a similar position as you.

God bless you as you minister to children in this way.

steve :)

Laura - Walking the Long & Winding Road said...

Steve -

Thank you for reading! We would love to hear more specifics about your opportunities. Maybe you should begin a blog :)...

Feel free to e-mail me at contact@waitslegal.com

Blessings to you and your family -
Laura

Laura - Walking the Long & Winding Road said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Sensenig said...

Our home visit went very well tonight! :) Praise the Lord! Two hours and lots of papers to sign. We still have to do the fire inspection and get physicals and TB tests. Then we'll get our license.

I don't know about starting a foster/adoptive blog, but it's an idea. I write most regularly on my theological musings blog (where my name is linked to here on these comments), but let my homeschooling blog get very dormant. So, I'm hesitant to take on another one! ;) But it would be interesting to document the journey like you're doing. I'll consider it. :)