Friday, November 11, 2011

Finding our Purpose

Life as a parent  is tough. Children require a substantial amount of time, energy, patience,direction, and love. That isn't even mentioning the hours of household chores. As a new parent, most of us head out into the world full of hopes and dreams for this amazing child. We have a plan. We dream a lot of dreams for this child's future. We speculate what they will be when they grow up. We see them as an opportunity . Maybe even as a way to make up for mistakes we have made. Like a fresh start. We devote our time and energy to loving this amazing gift from above. We see this child as a blessing, a miracle even. We watch as our child blossoms into an inquisitive, curious, adventurous, and energetic toddler. We watch our family grow, adding a new child or two, sometimes even more! Ther are two parents whose love for each other is matched or surpassed only by the love they feel for their HeveanlyFather and their children. Home life is wonderful. Mom and Dad love one another. Children are nurtured and loved. Food and clean clothing are ever present. Dirty diapers are changed regularly. Doctors and dentist are accessible and children are taken to regular appointments. Laughter is in the echoes of the home. Hugs and kisses never run out. Compliments are tossed out at random and frequently. Discipline is fair and just. The family works together to maintain a home . Children have boundaries and can anticipate any consequences for overstepping them. Children are allowed to expirence the natural consequences  presented with day to day life.  Parents model expected behaviors. Love and nurturing fill the hearts of all who enter into the home. Life is good. Please understand, I do not believe any family looks like that ALL the time. There are disagreements, spats, ugly words, financial troubles, and other short lived and quickly regretted choices from time to time. We are all human and therefore prone to acting self serving and unkind, at least on occasion.  What about the children whose lives look absolutly nothing like that, ever? It sounds so wonderful, and in  it seems natural and easy. For many children this is not even close to a description of home. We work with those children. We, the foster family, whose home resembles the above description, flaws and all. We who have hearts and compassion for the children from troubled homes. We, the families who house foster children, whose homes  are filled with love, laughter, tears and tantrums.  Triumph and defeat are daily occurrences and measured by a standard that is atypical of the average American home. Succes is measured in tiny pieces, small tidbits of self control are hugely celebrated.  We put aside our personal comfort and open our homes and family to children from homes we know little or nothing about. Children who have been beaten. Children who have witnessed violence we have only seen portrayed In movies or television. Children who have been molested, raped and/or made to perform sexually for friends, family members, and/or random people allowed to pass through their lives without their control. Sometimes the parents are so involved in drugs or their own narcissistic behaviors, they aren't even aware of the people in their home. Children who have lived on the street. Children who have gone without food, shelter, and other basic needs. Children who have parents with incredibly low I.Q.'s, so low it impairs their ability to properly care for and protect their kids. Children who have been left at home to fend for themselves and their siblings for hours or days on end. Children who have witness incredibly heinous acts of violence, and maltreatment. Children emotionally abused, whose self worth is so diminished they don't even see themselves as worthy to eat, feel safe, or worse, live.  I am not here to claim a superior knowledge of such children and behaviors. I am only intending to share experiences and maybe set a place for dialog to happen. Maybe other Foster families will want to share, maybe children who once were in foster care will chime in about what they liked and didn't, maybe they can shed some light on what they felt during those times in their lives where they were placed in a home full of strangers. Maybe.  About my family... It's kinda funny, I grew up in a loving home with two parents and two siblings. My mother and father opened our house to many children in need. Never were we a foster home by definition, however, our family rescued more than a few children from trouble situations. My siblings and I seemed drawn to trouble kids. I am not sure why, but each of us had friends who needed guidance and for different reasons felt unable to find it at home. Our mother was "mom" to a multitude of children and teens as we grew up. To this day, many of those kids still call here mom, even though most are in their late 30's.  My mom and dad have many siblings, and one from each of them were foster parents while I was a child. I saw my aunt and uncle open there home to some of the most troubled boys I had ever seen. Some of these kids were in trouble with the law, some of them were incredibly violent. Most of them had major difficulties in their young lives. I was a child, so the details were never made clear to me. All I knew was that were had some new cousins, and that they would or could leave at anytime. My aunt and uncle ,we're mostly asked to take in teen boys who were just short of being put in residential treatment, due to the number of homes their behaviors and choices had caused them to be removed from. Quite a few of them are still part of our family. They come to holidays, reruns, they phone, or write or some other way keep in touch. Some do not.  I believe the combination of my parents and my aunt and uncle choosing to open there home, teaching us that love is limitless, and that all children deserve a safe and loving place they can call home, influenced my love for children. I think it influenced my sister too. (we'll get to that later :0) ) I grew up with a great understanding of love, and compassion. As a young adult, I knew that one day I wanted to be a foster parent, or adoptive parent, or maybe even both.  In time I was married to a man who loves his children more than his own life. A man who had a childhood I would describe as, less than nurturing, or stable. He grew up learning how to care for himself. He was living on his own and working full time, while attending his senior year in high school. His family has their skelletons in the closet, like most families do. I won't go into details, but he had a much different childhood than I did. He feared being a parent. He didn't know if he could love a child the way they should be loved. In time, we decided to have children. Two children, who are the apple of their daddy's eye, the source of much joy and laughter. Our children are a treasure. We are showered with compliments on their maturity and level of respect they show to others. Our children have hearts like their parents.  When they were very little, I believe 3 and 6 years old, we decided to open our home to foster children. It has been an adventure, much like a roller coaster. The stories you will read are based on that very adventure..... Enjoy the ride :0)

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