Many a good parent has entered the world of foster care and adoption, only to be blindsided by the complete ineffectiveness of many of their go-to parenting tools. They find that the children in their care respond differently than their friend’s kids or even their biological children. This is “difference” is sparked by TRAUMA. Drug exposure, stress, separation, neglect, domestic violence and abuse all affect the brain, especially during the formative years of development. Trauma has taught the body that the world is a scary place.
Category: Foster Parenting
Every foster parent is different, obviously, and what brings them to this line of care is different too. But, surprisingly, a lot of our parents have one striking similarity. In every story we hear from a foster parent about why they do what they do, there is a similar vein of, “I just wanted to try it, to see if I liked it. And here I am, years later, still doing it; still loving it.” People who foster parent well, don’t really know why or how; they just know that their hearts get called to do it.
Over the last six months, I have been doing Emergency Shelter Foster Care for FCNI in my home, during which time about 13 girls, all but two of them teens, have lived with me. I have soothed nightmares, eased the pain of detoxing from drugs, and have listened to traumatic stories of abuse, sex trafficking, abandonment, sibling separation and loss. I have been yelled and cussed at, have deescalated impending fights and have had girls run away.
September is National Recovery Month sponsored by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). I could think of no better way to honor this month than to write about my own Dad's recovery from alcoholism. One of my earliest memories is the sound of ice cubes clinking in a glass as I lay in bed and my Dad walked down the hallway past my room. He always had a glass in his hand. I was too young to understand that there was usually scotch or vodka in there, but I did know that his mood became darker and angrier the more he drank.
The more a human being has been hurt, the more natural it is to be self-protecting and to believe that the only person you can count on is yourself. But many great philosophers, spiritual leaders, artists, therapists and social scientist have come to the same conclusion: relationships are what heal.
For the past 25 years, I have been a Resource Parent to over 100 youth ages 12 through 18 and yes, that has been my choice! Most people who hear these numbers cringe and exclaim that they can’t understand why anyone would choose to surround themselves with teenagers. For me, it has been an incredible opportunity to help kids prepare for the transition to adulthood. When I started fostering, there were no Transitional Housing support programs for youth who were aging out of the foster care system.
How well I still remember one of the anthems of my generation “… For the times they are a changin’.” And yes, how applicable these words continue to be; especially in our world of Child, Youth and Family Services. It seems that the past One and half decades has been a blur of major public policy and service delivery paradigm shifts—but, these are changes for the better.
There are parents, and then there are Parents. There are plenty of folks who do an outstanding job of nurturing, protecting and guiding their children to become healthy, successful adults. For these people, excellent parenting is a high priority in their constellation of life consuming activities. But, then there are those unique individuals where parenting is not just an important responsibility, but rather, it is their Vocation.
Recent events in the National media and celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s. Birthday have resulted in some interesting and revealing thoughts and conversations in my multiracial family.
It started with a short vacation in Southern California where I found myself and my children walking a crowed path along the beach. As I people watched, I realized that my children were beautiful spots of color in what seemed to be a sea of white, which I am a part of. Then it happened. All of my children simultaneously broke the law. In blatant disregard for the clearly posted sign reading “Keep Off Grass”, they were running and chasing each other on said grass.
As a Mom, when I heard that April is officially “The Month of the Child”, my first thought was, “’The Month of the Child’??? Isn’t every month, even every day for the child?! How come Moms and Dads get only one day out of the whole year?”
Wow, I guess I was feeling a little sensitive about this subject!