Well? Can you?

I am very familiar with hearing “I can’t.”

Our sweet new kids says “I CAN’T” with wild abandon. The other kids say it as well, but adding two more kid saying “I CAAAAAN’T” means I am hearing this phrase about 78,986 times per day..or at least that is what it feels like.

Corban says, “I can’t practice piano NOW!”
Ms. Sweetie says, “I CAN’T eat THAT!”
Joseph and Judsen say, “I CANNOT MISS Duck Dynasty!!”
Celee and Mia both say they CANNOT speak in public.
TC is absolutely positive he CANNOT do dishes AND sweep!!

I CAN’T…the phrase uttered inaccurately and with HUGE frequency around here. I despise “I can’t” because it is illogical to assume you can’t do something you haven’t tried. It is irrational to assert you CAN’T because something may be irritating or inconvenient at that particular time.

Maybe it is ridiculous for me to expect rational thought and logic from children…
I do, however, expect it from adults.
Because adults ARE more rational, thoughtful, logical beings.

I can’t…with grown-ups.
#1 conversation I have with people about our family…
“Did you adopt?”
“Yes, we did foster-adopt through the state.”
Which is followed by:
“I can’t do that, I would just get too attached.”

I disagree with this “I can’t” foster care philosophy.
Let’s discuss…

What is right?
We try and teach our children to do things that are right but still hard. Maybe on a slightly smaller scale, but as parents we do try…we teach them to talk to the alienated kid, we teach them to wash their clothes, eat their broccoli, clean their rooms, change their underwear…any one of these could be construed as something that is “hard” for a kid, but they have to do it because it is the RIGHT thing to do in the name of hygiene, health, or kindness.

When they get older we try and get them to choose the RIGHT vocation. Even if it means going to 4 or more years of college (hard). We try and get them to break up with a super-attractive girlfriend because she is a cheater (hard). We, over and over, repeat that they need to make the RIGHT decision.

We spend countless hours trying to teach our children to be helpful, be kind, put other people’s needs ahead of their own…because we know that “right” is not always “easy.”

If you ask any foster parent anywhere, they can very quickly tell you that foster parents are FIGHTING for attachment of any kind from these kids.  Attachment, while painful when the kids leave, is NECESSARY for their proper emotional upbringing. And, just like many other behaviors, children learn by copying parents. They will learn appropriate or inappropriate attachments from the adults in their life. So as you attach, hopefully, so will they. It will, in actuality, take longer than with children who have not experienced trauma. But, it still can happen…your attachment is needed to bring about their attachment.

It DOES feel like the end of the world when a child leaves your home. It is something akin to torture. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t what we should do. It doesn’t mean that we will not recover. It does mean you have eased the suffering of at least one. It means you have shown, not just told your children about caring for others. It means you are willing to give up your wants in exchange for a child’s needs.

Attachment will probably always be a debated topic among foster parents and non-foster parents. But, remember, attachment is good. It is necessary. And I am forever reminding myself that attachment is not all about ME.

Kids and Grown-ups…Can’t?
Can’t means unable. Are we really unable?
I believe that this is where “I can’t” overlaps the adults with the children. Really, with kids and grown-ups…most of the time, “I can’t” doesn’t really mean that we are unable. It means there is another part of our life that takes priority.

Our time, our money, convenience, emotions. Whatever it is. These things do not render us unable, they drive the selfishness that renders us unwilling.

Because with my children…they really CAN practice piano now, miss Duck Dynasty, speak in public, eat broccoli…maybe it is gross, scary, annoying…but they are capable. They CAN.

This point also holds true for grown-ups…really, most of us can foster. But, given the choice, right now, it is too inconvenient. We are unwilling to sacrifice our retirement, our clean house, possibly our sanity, or our hearts.

I can’t.
My husband likes to ask the question: “What could we do if we couldn’t can’t?” It is one of those questions that makes me mad. Because he usually says it after I say, “I can’t!” So, I have tried to eradicate “I can’t” from our lives…I know it isn’t possible. But I try, just the same.
I am aware there are some things we really can’t do.

I also know there are many things that we CAN do, but label it as CAN’T.
Maybe it is to salvage our pride.
Maybe it is to excuse ourselves from having to deal with horrible realities.
But, be sure, the atrocities still exist.
There is still abuse. There is still neglect.
There are still more than 100,000 children that need a family.
There is still a huge shortage of foster homes.
The mind-boggling part of these frightening matters is that they can be corrected when more people start saying, “I can.”
So, the question remains…
Can YOU?

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. Get AWARE, friends. If you want more info check out  http://adoptuskids.org/  for information about waiting children.

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