Dear Friends & Family,
It’s true. I chose this life and everything that has accompanied it since.
I chose to parents kids who require extra time to celebrate their culture. Attend cultural events. Cook new foods, and continually educate myself on a culture not my own.
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I chose to have children who come with another extended family of their own. I chose to have so many wonderful people to visit and think of when making decisions.
I chose to embrace special needs. I chose to add assessments, research, school IEP’s, medical appointments, special equipment, more research, more medical appointments, and numerous professionals into my schedule.
I chose to tackle trauma, attachment, and grief and loss on a daily basis.
I chose to offer up my finances, home, time and energy to love a child the best that I could.
I chose to welcome a child into my family in order for a child to be raised in a family.
What I didn’t chose:
To be abandoned and isolated for my choices.
To lose family members, friends, and being included.
To have children without friends.
To be judged for my choices in parenting; in marriage; in life.
To have professionals strip me of respect and dignity on a daily basis.
To face anxiety, depression, PTSD, second hand trauma, and an overwhelming fear of failure over every choice I make.
To have churches turn me away.
To feel completely alone for fighting to have a child never feel alone.
My life looks different than the average family, but it is a life any one of you could have been dealt. Becoming a parent…having a child with special needs….getting married….having a family member fall ill….these are all scenarios that can happen to anyone, but when issues arise do we brush them aside and simply reply:
“You chose to get married.”
“You chose to have kids.”
“You chose to love your family.”
No. Of course not. Instead we wrap around them and offer our support. Somehow by adding “choice” to our descriptor, we have missed out on support. It isn’t just the absence of support, but the blaming of the choice. Sure, adoptive and foster parents have a lot on their plates. I don’t think any of them will ever argue how busy their lives are. But behind closed doors you may not see the needs that result in having children wake up at 4am, enraged and screaming. That by lunchtime we have dealt with multiple professionals, appointments and phone calls. That in the afternoon our children come home after holding in all of their anxiety and frustration and release it on us like a category 5 tornado. That by dinner time we have dealt with more horrific meltdowns than you may experience in your entire parenting journey. That by evening time we have spent more than 5 hours attempting to get children to sleep. That by midnight we finally have an opportunity to clean our house, pay our bills, make lunches, and maybe sit down for 5 minutes. That through the evening, long past the newborn years, we wake up multiple times throughout the night due to the special needs of each of our children. So when you ask us for tiny favors…our cup may be long past dry with nothing more to give. This is not from a lack of wanting to give. Because we really do. But our cup has run empty and the well to refill it has run dry. You may only be asking for a sip, but we haven’t even a drop remaining.
And to be very clear, this doesn’t mean we aren’t coping. It simply means we lead a different life.
In the church we see members come together to support a mother who just gave birth, send meals for a family facing illness, and wrap around a grieving woman who just lost her spouse. Somewhere, somehow, we have overlooked the dire need to support adoptive and foster parents who are struggling…and doing it alone. The heartache of losing a foster child is gut-wrenching. Watching your child come home year after year without friends is physically painful, and the waiting period in an adoption can be excruciating. We need understanding, but more importantly, we need grace. We may not be the most reliable for offering up our time for social visits or a helping hand, but I bet we can lend a listening ear and a safe space to vent. I bet we know how to throw together a mean prayer and advocate for those we love.
So just know this…while we may not be able to offer up ourselves the same way as others, or to the level we wish we could….while we may have chosen this life…we truly want to be accepted by friends and family. We want to love them and be loved, but above all else, we want a child to feel loved. In that we can at least be at peace.
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