Imagine you’re a single mother, caring for your children the best you can, you love them dearly. Then one day, social services comes knocking on your door telling you your children will be taken away from you if you don’t meet a certain list of criteria. You’re not doing your job as a parent. How do you feel? Scared? Confused? Angry? Sad?
The majority of parents will never experience this. Most parents were brought up in a decent home with decent parents and have learned how to care for children in a safe and loving way.
But what would happen if you had a very traumatic childhood, or if you had a mental illness, or a drug addiction or an abusive spouse? This would make it more difficult for you to parent well, right? It’s hard to parent properly when your life is a mess. A lot of children are in foster care because of neglect and abuse due to a variety of reasons. Although, regardless of the reason, what we outsiders easily forget, is how much these parents still love their children. Of course, it’s not always a healthy loving relationship, but it’s still love. They can’t see the extent of the neglect or abuse the way we can clearly see it. Maybe that’s all they’ve ever known and it’s become normal to them. So when a social worker comes knocking on their door, they don’t understand what’s going on. They don’t see anything wrong with their parenting methods. They love their kids and they believe they’re doing an ok job.
This scenario I’m describing does not represent every parent of a child in foster care. Every situation is different. Although, this is our situation.
Since Little Miss is our family, we are trying to adopt the child of a woman we know. Usually, when you apply for adoption, you end up with a child you’ve never met before. From a family that is not your own. We don’t have that luxury.
We get to see every bit of hurt along the way. Every heartbreak, every disappointment, every dream crushed. We see a mother slowly losing hope. Slipping into a deeper state of depression. We see a confused mother who doesn’t seem to understand why her kids still aren’t back with her. Even after her case worker has explained everything clearly to her, for the umpteenth time. We see a family that is broken and is on the verge of being split up forever. We see a little girl who is confused, scared and hurt. We don’t see it all, but we see most of it.
Ever since I was little, I always pictured myself adopting some day. Except that, I never visualized adoption to be quite like this. I didn’t understand that for me to be able to rejoice in the adoption of a new child, a family had to break completely. A child had to be torn away from her mother, and a mother had to be torn away from her children. I always saw myself as a savior, helping an orphan have a better life.
Over the past year and a half, while we’re waiting for the judge to make her final decision, we’ve wanted to share our joy with others about the possibility of our family expanding. We want to tell the world about our adoption story. But we can’t. I feel like I’m rubbing it into Little Miss’ mother’s face. Almost like “ha ha, I have your child”. I just feels wrong. Out of respect for her, I will wait until Little Miss is here before we express our joy to the world. I guess today I’m doing this semi-anonymously, but someday, I’ll be able to proudly share the details I can’t share today.
My heart has never been so confused. I didn’t know it could feel both such strong feelings of happiness and heart break at the same time.
Adoption from foster care can take a very long time. The one thing I’ve had a chance to learn in our wait, is that regardless of what I feel towards this mother, I will always speak respectfully of her towards her daughter. Sure, she has messed up big time and has neglected her child in big ways. But she gave life to a wonderful little girl and she has loved her in her own way. I pray that God will give me the ability to speak of her with grace and love to her sweet girl. She deserves to know all the good things about her mother. And she does have great qualities. Even is spite of all her shortcomings.
Adoption is a beautiful thing. We need more people who are willing to adopt. This world will continue to have children who lose their parents in one way or another. They all deserve to have a loving home to grow up in. A place where they belong, forever. If you are interested in adopting an older child, I urge you to take the time to understand the needs of these specific children. Their needs are a bit different than a baby or a toddler. Older children will remember their parents. They will remember the life they had before they came into your care. You will need to be ready to deal with them with extra loving care and with a surplus of patience. These children are broken and have been through so much. Make sure you prepare yourself well and have a great group of people who will support you through the adoption.
Adoption from foster care can also be beautiful. These children are worth it. Worth every ounce of effort you put into it. Little Miss is worth it. We will never give up on her.
Just promise me that throughout the whole adoption process, even after the adoption has been finalized, you never forget to pray for the birth parents. They’ve lost their children. Even if they “deserved” it, it doesn’t hurt any less. They also deserve your time in prayers. They deserve the ability to heal from their hurts and a chance to change their lives for the better. Pray for their hearts to heal. Pray they will turn their lives around. Pray they will learn from their mistakes.