I hear all kinds of things since beginning our foster and adoption journey.
You are a saint.
You must be so patient.
These kids are so lucky you saved them.
These comments put us in a group of humans in which we simply do not belong. An unattainable group of parental perfection. Impossible.
Let us address these often-heard comments one-by-one:
(my favorite way to address things)
I have never been, nor will I ever be a saint. If you know me in the flesh, you would agree. I am less sweet and more salty (translation: completely offensive on accident). Too much blunt. Too many opinions. I have ALL THE RUDE OPINIONS. all the time. out loud.
A couple of silly people suggested that I run for office. No, friends. Just no. I would get fired. I am not good at making nice. I try. But I am just very bad at it. very. If being an anti-lobbyist was a real political thing – I could definitely do that.
Patient. What is that?
If you consider patient giving away all the things the kids fight over. Then sure, I’m patient. Is stomping up the stairs with trash bag in hand and loading said trash bag with ALL THE TOYS ON THE FLOOR and giving them away, patient? I feel like possibly, no.
Lucky to be saved.
The idea that our children are lucky. Eight of our nine have been abused. Eight of our kids have been removed from their family of origin. Through the state or by abandonment. This is not lucky. Please be very aware, that in a perfect world, adoption would be entirely unnecessary. There is nothing lucky about adoption. It is a beautiful picture of redemption within our broken humanity. But it is not lucky. And to say this, especially in front of our kids, is to derogate their experiences. And minimize the life they withstood prior to adoption.
The idea of being saved. Know this: I am no savior. I am a fractured, in-process human. Just like you. Did we save them from longer time within the foster system? Maybe. Did we save our Amerikrainians from death? Maybe, again. But it could have just as easily been another person, another family.
Our children were offered a family, and now it is up to them to save their futures from the evil, chasing ghosts of the past. Which, unless you have lived their life, is much, much harder than you may imagine. Rational thought processes evaporate in the shadow of knee-jerk decision making brought on by years of abuse, neglect, fear, and anger. I cannot save them from their own minds. We can walk them through it. Offer support, discussion, explanation. But we cannot save them.
Normal and Boring.
Sometimes I feel like the saintly-savior-patience comments are a way to separate the “you’s” from the “me’s.” To exclude the you’s from the pool of foster/adoptive parental possibilities. It is human nature to put a separation as an explanation or an excuse for why we don’t or haven’t.
I have known since the beginning that I am boring and normal and slightly rude. There is nothing extraordinary here. We pay bills. We raise kids. We stress out. We have fun. Many Fridays we sit on our tails and watch too much television. Some of us like football. Some of us are excellent dancers. Some of us only think we are excellent dancers. We are overbooked and under-rested. We can be cranky and goofy. We can be your basic run-of-the-mill disaster. We are dorks. We make fart jokes. We are obnoxiously loud at times. We love one another. We have friends. We like road trips. Our family is big, but not as different as you may imagine.
There is no special-ness in my genetics that makes me more qualified. Nothing amazing. Nothing spectacular. These children are not looking for superheroes. Not perfection. Nothing that is any more beautiful or exceptional than a family.
Parents. Appropriate, responsible, adult humans. I am talking to you. When did the decision become fostering and/or adopting isn’t for us? That we need a different and better job, house, or car.
The idea that we must offer an ideal instead of reality is entirely problematic.
Can’t the time be now? In this house? This car? This job? Being saintly or patient has never been a prerequisite for parenting. These are lives. Lives of children. Your neighbors. Your children’s schoolmates.
And still they wait.
In hotels. In hospitals. In the offices of their caseworkers, listening to phone call upon phone call being made to find them a temporary home. Listening. As query upon query is answered with…no, not here, not now…rejection. Time and time and time again.
And for some reason, I still hear the comments of separation.
Good for you…
You are so great…
I could never…
You are a saint, a savior, so patient, so kind…
You see, the problem with the “you and me” separation is very simple…I am you.
And always have been.