Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Foster Care Licensing Class: Loss

Four weeks of licensing classes down, five to go! 
Then two more weeks for our Spaulding adoption class.

Last week, we spent the class discussing abuse in its many forms and the effects that might be seen in foster children. There wasn't a lot of new information for me, but we did view a video of hypothetical abusive situations. The sexual abuse instance was brief and only alluded to what was happening, but it was by far the most uncomfortable to watch. It makes my skin crawl to think about it.

After that particular video was over, the class had a lot of questions about reunification efforts for abusive situations. It was difficult to wrap our minds around the possibility of sending a kid back into a situation where they were ever abused. The best answer I heard was that often the child is removed from the two parent household but is reunified with a non-abusive parent when the abuser is no longer living there or is in jail. Still, what a thought... 

Tonight's class was only slightly easier. The topic was loss. I expected to talk about foster kids who loose their parents, extended families, school, home, innocence, self worth. And we did. What I didn't expect was to spend a good chunk of the class talking about the loss that foster and adoptive families experience. I appreciate that the Children's Division acknowledges and appreciates the loss that comes with committing to adoption or foster care. I've been mulling over this issue lately. Our family is fairly typical. We have amazing kids who occasionally mess up. We aren't even close to perfect, but we have a rhythm that comes with having 5 people living together for 5 years. We're comfortable and we're mostly peaceful and we're innocent. As the matriarch of this family, I'm going to feel the loss of all that. I'm going to have to trust in God's plan for us more than ever when our new kids are sharing too much information, when night terrors awaken the house, when tantrums prevent us from traveling often. I worry about our bio kids. I worry about the loss they will feel as much as I do the loss that our adopted children will have suffered.  My three sweet babies will be losing their normal. They will be sharing their home and their parents with a stranger, possibly several strangers. The loss, while minor compared to the lists that some kids have suffered, will be very real and very big to them.

As I voiced these concerns tonight, I felt my heart race, my face flush with color, and a lump grow in my throat. I stared at the picture on my name tag of my whole gang, and I had to hold back tears. I am fiercely protective of my kiddos. They are my life, my responsibility not only by law but by God. I've nurtured them to the best of my knowledge and abilities, always being mindful of what elements I allowed into their lives. It's going to take great commitment to continue the same mindful parenting. 

As an adoptive parent, I will play the roll of Loss Manager. I will be finding ways to walk our kids through the grieving process that comes with all losses. The role of loss manager won't be played for our adoptive kids alone. I'll also be playing that role for our bio kids. The one helpful thing about their losses, however, is that we can predict them. Being able to predict what losses will be felt allows us to prepare our kids and hopefully minimize the loss. 

A friend told me recently there will be lots of changes in our kids because of our adoption. Some probably won't be so great. The awesome part, however, was that most of the changes would be great ones. They will grow in compassion, generosity, and love.

If you think about it and are willing, we would SO appreciate your prayers for our family, particularly our kids, both biological and future adoptive. 

I pray for our sweet children, that they would indeed grow in compassion and love, that God would prepare their hearts to welcome new siblings into our family, that they will feel the added joy more than the losses that will come with adding to our family, that we ALL may live joyfully, rejoicing in the Lord ALWAYS!

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