I’m Not a Lunatic or Saint

Why everyone should consider adopting from foster care
November, 21, 2014 -

I am so happy to be able to share about adoption this month! Not only is it National Adoption Month but FCNI is almost a licensed adoption agency, an accomplishment that took years to earn. This is also the month my adopted daughter and I celebrate the seven year anniversary of her moving in with me as well as her 20th birthday—so much to celebrate!

I became the foster mother for my daughter the month she turned 13. I was 27 and single. Some people thought I was crazy, others considered me a saint, and the truth is that I was neither.

You see, something happens when you start to know kids in foster care. There comes this moment with certain kids where you see their future laid out before them, the future of a child placed in the foster system, without a forever family to call their own.  Once kids start to age beyond seven or eight and they’ve been in multiple foster homes, you see it. Trauma can cause a child to become exhausted, angry and, at times, difficult. They push and then they pull. They have a good day only to sabotage it. You feel a glimmer of connection and understanding with them, only for them to become more hostile and withdrawn than ever….and it can lasts for days. They start refusing showers or boycotting certain foods. They want control any way they can get it. It’s hard—really hard—to care for a child in these circumstances.

When you are on the outside looking in at the foster parent who is starting to give up or break down, you grieve. You see the potential of the child and something clicks for you. If this kid doesn’t find a family, you can almost see what is in their future. They will become a statistic. They will be raised by a system that, in spite of its best efforts, may not be able to heal them. Relationships and families heal. Some of these children will end up in group homes. And if they are lucky, they will graduate high school and maybe make it until age 20 without having a child, dealing with a mental illness, obtaining a criminal record or succumbing to a major substance abuse issue. Even if they make it that far, someone will have to connect with them if they are going to continue on with some measure of success; a worker, mentor, friend, significant other, family member or coworker will have to be there for them. As people, we aren’t made to live untied to others. We need family and community for our identity, to provide us with comfort, love, and to help instill our values and to help us to feel safe. No person—especially a child—is an island.

So it is here, when you see this child facing this uphill battle, that you ask yourself if there is any good (enough) reason you cannot be their family. Not everyone can foster or adopt a child, but sometimes people are capable of far more than they think.

I was an unlikely candidate to become an adoptive mother, but I understood the need—it was so palpable that I could taste it. I was tortured and conflicted by this need. I wrestled over the decision to adopt for months before I chose to move forward. The need to give this young girl a real home was something that I simply could not ignore.

There are hard realizations that our histories have not always been intertwined, BUT the war is won! No one can take attachment away. This kind of love cannot be unlearned. It’s the most beautiful, necessary thing in the world and I would have missed it without my daughter.

Consider adoption this November. Consider what foster care and adoption for older children might look like in your life. Take it from me, it is the hardest and best thing you will ever do.

Written by Brooke Cone