We have recently been reminded at how thin the line between pain and beauty is. We are about to become a family of eight, temporarily. (Math isn’t my strength, but I am pretty sure I counted eight. WHAT!?) Fostering is being witness to some of the most unbearable pain one can imagine. I have already cried tears for children I haven’t yet met but will soon mother, and birth parents I may never meet. I am equally terrified and yet ache to have them safe and sound in our home. I have no idea how we will even manage this many kids. It’s scary. I don’t know if we can even do it. I feel a little nauseous. And yet, I witness the unbelievable compassion from our forever kids. “Well go get them!” “Yayy!! so many toddlers!” “I hope their birth family learns to keep them safe, but if not, I hope they find an awesome forever family.” “I had a dream last night about _____. I was protecting him from his birth Dad. I wonder what color hair he has!” I witness the amazing support in our community and family. The pain brings out the beauty, and we get to choose what to focus on every. single. day. A few people have recently made comments about how hard it will be “giving them back.” The fact is, it IS hard. The other fact is, attachment transfers. What does that mean? It means we pour our heart and souls into loving those kids, and if/when they go home or go to their forever family, that attachment goes with them. It can save them. Isn’t that what parenting is? Sacrificing? We are more than happy to take that pain and grief if it means these kiddos have a shot at healthy relationships down the road. I am not 100% sure I know how to cook for 8 people, put 6 kids to bed, manage day care and activities, stay sane, etc, but I do know how to love pretty well. And so that is what we shall do.
We were gifted the most beautiful adoption book today by a dear friend (whose dear friend is the author). What I Do Know by Lori Schlecht. The intro is this: My dear, precious child, when I watch you sleeping, or running around giggling, or especially when we celebrate your birthday, I long to know more about you. I have a longing- a longing to give you the answers you deserve, to tell you the stories that all parents tell. There’s so much I don’t know about you, and so much I wish I could say. When I ponder all that I do not know, I remember how blessed we are, and what a joy it is to tell you what I do know.
I love it. And…and I’m picky about adoption books. I was super excited to read it tonight, and geared myself to do it without crying (Charlie teared up reading it when I brought it home – don’t tell him I told you that). We ended up smiling – one part mentions being the luckiest person in the world to get to parent them. Alyssa instantly says – “You REALLY are the luckiest person in the world.” I laughed, but she wasn’t joking. I just love that about her. When we finished, she said – “that was beautiful.” What a mature and sweet reaction! We had a good talk afterwards about it, and they mentioned there aren’t many books for kids going through the process. Charlie and I have been talking on and off for quite some time about writing a book for kids about the actual process/journey. Many adoption books are written specific for infant adoption. I asked the kids what advice they would have for other kids just starting the process. J said, “I would just tell them it’s going to be great. Their forever family is gonna be crazy fun. AND safe.” Alyssa’s response? “Keep your pants on! Your forever family is coming! (They just take forever).” Keep your pants on? I’m wondering if she meant “hold your hat,” but we’ll go with keep your pants on. Often good advice. So…keep your pants on, a Kent book might be in the works.
We got to see “T” a couple of weeks ago, which was equal parts amazing and hard. It had been awhile, and we all have been missing him. I am pretty good at compartmentalizing, and it’s not a daily struggle for me like it is for J and A. I was nervous to see him again, and was surprised at the complete ACHE I had for him when I saw him. I still feel like he’s our son, and I alternated between wanting to hug him (note: teen boys aren’t huggers) and wanting to shake him. Not one to mince words, “A” instantly blurts out – “SO, why is it you chose not to live with us?” Poor guy looked at me with giant eyes and said, “help?” I wish I could. It opened up some wounds for all of us, but something amazing happened – instead of behaviors, we cried together. Instead of raging, we talked. Instead of shutting down, we used feelings words and we colored and we journaled and we hugged. “I can tell you I love him and he is amazing and it is very hard he didn’t want to start a new school and a new family.” It is hard.
Sometimes all of this is so hard that selfishly, I prefer to just look forward. It’s really, really hard to think too hard about their past or their loss. It’s easier to get frustrated with behaviors than it is to truly think about where these behaviors are coming from, because it’s painful. Too painful. Their history can sometimes get lost in the day to day chaos of life. Selfishly, I like it better that way. I *know* that’s not the route to healing, though. “A” randomly asked me to tell her more about her foster care journey the other day. I told her about how she went into foster care the first time when she was about Oakley’s age. . This kid is the most amazing big sister and has SO much love for Oakley. I watched her stare at Oakley while her eyes welled up. I think, for the first time, she experienced true empathy for herself. “That must have been so scary.” So. Scary. It is hard. Grateful to be doing this hard stuff together.