I was asked last night as I have been many times over the past few weeks “how you adjusting?” Quick back story, we are foster parents and we recently went from four kids to none in about a two week period. Thos weeks also involved what felt like nothing less than a kick in the gut court experience. Without sharing too much details of the case, we thought one of the cases was going to end in adoption but the judge and others on the case changed their minds at the last minute. So back to the question “how are we adjusting?” Depending on who you are you may have heard me say we are doing ok or we are making or my usual go to answer we are taking it day by day but trusting God.
As I was driving home from my nieces’ Christmas dance program last night (side bar they were super adorable) I began to cry for the fourth time yesterday. At first I just figured I was tired, Christmas music was playing and Delilah (no judging please) was asking people to call in and talk about those who they miss at Christmas time. But as I continued to cry I hear some one questioning me…. are you really adjusting? Are you really ok? I began to weep more and wanted to yell NO, I am not ok but instead I felt an overwhelming peace someone saying, “this is hard, very hard but you are doing ok and together we will make it, but don’t be afraid to share your story.” I realized then that I must be honest with both others and myself.
My husband and I both still love foster care and love what we do. We believe in families and that with the right help and the determination to change that families can heal. We believe that we will always be involved somehow in the foster care system providing children with a home and a place to heal. However, as we were so close to having “forever children” as we say in the foster care world I am having a time adjusting. I however must share our story with others because not only does it allow others to get a better understanding of something we love and have devoted our lives to but to allow others to join in life with us as scripture teaches (Romans 15:15) and to encourage others that its ok to feel your emotions and to have good and bad days.
So back to the original question---“How are you adjusting?” Well that’s just it - it’s an adjustment. It depends on the day, how tired I am, what I have just heard on the radio, seen on tv, how someone just spoke to me or a plethora of other variables. As I process the adjustment I often am comforted by something I learned in Dr Smiths class at ETBU----DABDA. For you non counselors/social workers this is the grief process- Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. What it great about it is that there is not a set manner to go through the emotions. It’s not circular and it’s not linear.
This is how I am adjusting. Many days, I am accepting. I am doing fine. I am happy a family is getting another chance (even with my many concerns). I can laugh. I also wake up and can’t believe it happened. I keep thinking I am going to wake up from this nightmare. It’s hard to believe our busy, loud house is quiet. When I replay the past year and half for others is usually when I get angry. There were so many misleading talks. At times I felt no one was looking out for the kids’ best interest. I get angry about the way I was treated, that people didn’t do their job and angry about the let down. I do wish I could make deals with cps and with the kids’ mom. We were ordered no contact for 6 months. We asked for Christmas contact and for birthday contact and both were turned down. My bargaining has failed. The depression is the sneakiest of them all. I am a weeper by nature so it’s not uncommon for things to make me cry but right now the tears come more easily. I ask that people be sensitive to this for me. I am not ready to hear about others adoptions stories (I am super happy for them but I am still sad about my loss). Those stories always make me cry even on a good day. I get sad not knowing how the kids are doing. I get sad when I see a child that looks like the kids that were in our home. I get sad when others tell me that Christmas is for the kids. I get sad when I realize what I have lost and that I miss being the mom figure for kids. I miss the laughter in our home, the questions, the homework, the counseling trips, the chats about life. Yes, some moments are super sad.
Through it all, I have felt blessed that God does not allow us to feel these emotions alone. Not only does he listen to me cry, yell, or tell stories of those sweet little ones (all of the little ones who have come through our doors) but he places others in our life to feel them with us. To you friends and family who have cried with me, listened to me yell, who have taken time to be with us I cannot explain how important that has been for our healing. I often thought that with all the pain our group of friends have suffered in the past year (loss of babies, loss of adult children, loss of grandparents, loss of jobs, loss of marriages and health, etc) that what I was feeling shouldn’t even compare. As if I should be ok and should move on to helping others; which is of course what God desires form us, to serve and love others. But as I am reminded in this journey as we learn to adjust I too need to be served at times and need to allow others to jump into our messy lives and do it with us. When I think I have this down, God reminds me that the business of loving people is messy and you have to allow others into your mess too.
So I am welcoming you into our mess. Please be sensitive to it though. We still have tough times and probably aren’t quite ready to hear your happy adoption stories or your friends of a friends aunt who did foster care too and she had a situation like ours. For us this is unique to us and we are working through the adjustment. We welcome you to join in this with us as we will again reopen our home to little ones (not sure when but we will) and love them. And know that no matter where you are in your adjustment and no matter what the adjustment is for, we are all worth the emotions and the feelings and as we trust God and do life together we then live life to it’s fullest.
Oh and a huge thank you to our foster care agency, Buckner, who has gone above and beyond to take care of us and join in this process with us. They are truly a blessing to us!