I have decided to write some posts through this process of fostering with hopes to adopt. I want to help those of you who are thinking about the process, to know a little bit of what life has been like in the Rowley house. 🙂
We have had our little foster baby, our first placement, for almost 3 months. Many days it seems like longer. Bless his little 17 month old(currently) heart. And I sincerely mean that.
He is saying more words like “momma” :), using sign language and communicating non verbally. All of which weren’t happening 2 months ago. I wouldn’t have considered him delayed but in a few more months that would have been a different story. We are making progress. One long day at a time. I just have to remember the progress, otherwise the days can get very discouraging. The tantrums. The hitting. The spitting. The angry response to almost anything I do or say to him. Some days there are very few smiles or signs that, “mom you are doing the right thing with me”.
A few days ago at Costco he wasn’t feeling well. It wasn’t ideal but my schedule seems to have little room for error these days and we were out of bread. So we had to go. He did good in the cart while we shopped, then we stopped for our usual hot dog before heading home. He seemed to perk up when he saw food was on the way. That made me happy since he had been so sick all morning with a random fever. By the way, he doesn’t have the flu or anything contagious as confirmed by the doctor. We go to find a seat at a table and he wants out of the cart. No problem. I get him out, with his blanket, my hotdog and my drink cup. I see how this is going to go. I can’t do it all. So I know I will have to put him down to put condiments on my hot dog and fill up my drink. I say, “Buddy, I have to put you down, just stand here one minute and I will pick you back up.” I see the change in his face and body language. This isn’t going to go smoothly. I set him down and he lays out on the floor. Thankfully there are no screams today. I proceed to make my hot dog. I look back and see him still sprawled out. This time hitting the floor with his hand to make a point. I don’t look around. I am focused. I fill my drink cup, head back to the table and turn around to retrieve my struggling 1 year old.
Meanwhile, an older couple makes a comment (sweetly) about how it looked like it was time for nap time. *Sigh*. I pick him up and take him back to see if a hot dog will make him happy. Nope. After a few swats at me and throwing himself back in protest, I place him back in the buggy so I can wolf down my hot dog and get out of there. Also, I am 6 months pregnant which makes a full on tantrum extra fun for me and the baby.
I know people around me saw all of this. I know it was probably curious to watch. As a parent, I am curious to see how other parents handle their children working out their emotions. Maybe some of them thought I needed to get a handle on my kid.
Here’s what I want to say and don’t because I am confident in my situation and I am not ashamed I have a difficult toddler. I just learn(everyday) to roll with the punches, sometimes literally. It’s not about me. The kid you see, throwing himself on the floor, does this all the time. Despite every parenting tool I can read about and ask advice on, I am just doing the best I can and none of it seems to work. This baby isn’t mine. But I love him like he is. Really. This baby, I am confident, got very little love and attention before we got him. He wasn’t a priority. He probably only got attention that was negative attention. His mom probably didn’t hold him much and his dad isn’t exactly a good role model. This kid isn’t bad. He was never truly loved. And none of it is his fault.
I question myself everyday. Am I doing this right? Am I helping him? Does he see that my boundaries and rules are for his good? Is he going to be this angry and defiant all the time? Does he know I love him, even though I tell him after every time out and times in between?
He is scared. In his short little life he is so confused. I never knew someone so small could have this much anger so quickly in his little life. Most days I wonder if we will all survive the day in tact. Will I feel like a total failure by the time bedtime rolls around? I never had these doubts with Graham. I guess getting a child “mid spin cycle” kind of makes you have extra doubtful thoughts about what the heck is going on.
I’m sure the patients in the doctors office the other day, who watched him hit me repeated times over absolutely nothing thought, “she really needs to get a hold of that child.” Trust me, I wish I could too. To not just make the behavior subside and help him to be calm, but to really get through to him. So he knows that every little thing is going to be okay. That life won’t be this confusing forever (I hope).
That lady in the store with the off the wall child that we may be so quick to judge? Maybe this child just showed up on her doorstep. Maybe she is blindly trying to figure out this child’s story, his triggers. Not *all* parents with tough kids is through any fault of their own. If I could sit here and give a magical formula for correcting children and helping them be little angels I would!! I am so consistent my brain and back hurt most days. Is it paying off? Not today. I am loving and I am firm. We have structure. We don’t eat hardly any sugars. We drink organic milk. But at the end of the day folks, none of it matters! Not that we should give up on these things. But I keep telling myself that one day, this will pay off. One day. Not today, and I am not even hopeful about next month.
I have never questioned myself and my parenting abilities so much in my life as I have the last 3 months. I am at a loss most days. But I know that this baby wouldn’t have a fighting chance at a good life without us. Not a chance. So for now, I will take the *smile* and arms up saying “please hold me” when I pick him up from daycare. And when he hears that daddy is home and freaks out with “Dadda?!” and screams of excitement, I tuck that away as a sign that maybe he loves us and knows we love him. Sometimes that’s all we get.
Fostering isn’t easy. There are so many things beyond the day to day that are challenging about it. And honestly not something you can really prepare yourself for. You can’t possibly anticipate every complicated scenario. Some aren’t complicated, but most are. I am not complaining. This is just real life. Not glamorous, never according to plan. But we survive. What choice do we have? The LEAST complicated thing about all of this is loving this little boy. We love him. So much. And the doubts and the frustrations are so much better than the alternative…a little boy going to another foster home who maybe won’t love him like we do or care enough to do the hard stuff with him that matters. If we don’t fight for him who will? I see his future with us and I see his future without us. So I choose for him to be here.
Some of you have expressed interest in fostering and adopting one day. Do it! But you have to know why you are going to do this everyday. These kids need you. They really really do. You aren’t doing this for fun times at the park or sweet bedtime stories. You are going to dig deeper than you ever knew you could, in hopes of getting through to these hurting and broken kids. Kids who didn’t ask for any of it.
Please pray for us. That God would give us the desire of our hearts. That he would give us the strength to handle court dates, case workers, and biological parents. That he would provide open doors to protect this little guy from a life not fit for a child. Just because we chose to foster, doesn’t mean that isn’t hard. I am thankful for a husband who has taken this on like a champ. Never questioning this from the minute this little guy stepped in our house. I am so grateful!
Thank you to so many who have walked with us and encouraged me personally. Hearing the simplest, “you are doing the right thing”, makes my load a little lighter even if most times I have a hard time believing it. Some people can be very negative about adoption but honestly I have only been met with kindness and sincere appreciation for what we are doing. We are all a tough bunch and we all need love when we feel we least deserve it. So I pray for the extra grace to never forget that the ones who push us away the most, need love the most.