**August 2015 update: In this post, I write some things that now make me cringe in regards to an adoptive parent centered outlook as opposed to an adoptee centered outlook. However, I am leaving it as I wrote it because this was where I was at the time and, in an effort to support the adoptee centered focus I now endorse, I want other adoptive parents to be able to see and identify with the points from which I’ve come. I would, however, like to point you to this post, which is where I presently am in this journey of adoption.**
It has been almost exactly 3 months since S. has been a part of our family. As it turns out, fostering is hard. Real hard. Ask 6 of our closest friends with whom we had dinner last Friday about how I cried periodically through our public restaurant gathering and then bawled at the end when Ryan had to carry S. out who was also bawling. It was a spectacle worthy of some of my high school breakup dramatics. It was embarrassing and uncontrollable.
People keep saying, “Welcome to motherhood.” And I get that. I mean, I get what they are trying to say. It is difficult, however, to articulate how my emotions swirl around this child. I think it is safe to assume that mothering as we assume with biological children does not hover around the constant threat of your child being taken away and placed with another family. His BLOOD family, in fact, with whom you have your own SEPARATE set of emotions to wade through involving anger, fear, sadness, and confusion.
It may also be safe to assume that there is an unexplainable and irreplaceable benefit to having from infancy (and even in utero really) to this toddler stage to build a relationship with your child, a relationship which becomes the stronghold upon which you grab when your two year old is throwing a horrific tantrum over not being able to have a piece of gum and you want to start screaming too. We are now building this relationship far past the infancy stage. It is a work in progress for all of us.
Here is where I rest right now. We are called to take care of those in need. I feel called to do this. I am where I am supposed to be right now with this wonderful, funny, beautiful boy. But I would not recommend fostering to the masses. Which, I suppose, is why many people don’t do it. I continue to be a huge proponent for becoming a foster family, but no longer would I offer a flippant, “You should do it!” I have no idea how people do this without Jesus either. “Think long and hard and talk to Jesus.” That’s probably what I’d say now.
I would also say that you should find some solid, honest parents to talk to, regardless of how their family came together. It is lonely to feel like you are the only mom who can be emotionally exhausted from just being around their child; who feels like they will self combust if they don’t get away from them once in a while. I know that this is not just a foster mom sentiment, but I also know that it is hard to find mothers who will admit this to themselves, let alone anyone else.
I listened to a Relevant podcast this week of an interview with Marshall Allman, who plays Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz, the movie. He said, “I think somewhere along the lines we just got this idea that we needed to put on this face of perfection and that if we weren’t perfect then nobody would believe our God is either.” I don’t know that every mom is necessarily trying to be the face of perfection for the sake of portraying God, but I DO think that moms are reserved on honesty in relation to their children for the same reason Christians attempt to portray perfection: “What will people think if I say what I’m honestly thinking?” Admitting imperfection is admitting that you aren’t a perfect mom. Which is, as I’m learning, as unattainable as perfectly portraying God.
You know what I think? I’m going to tell you because this is my blog. I think your honesty would be a HUGE blessing to a mom who is struggling in silence and should be a gentle nudge to the mom who would never be so brave as to admit imperfection that it. is. okay. You’re not perfect. No mom is. And all will be well in the end.