By Melissa of Colorado, USA, who blogs at Nature Deva
Last night, we embarked on the first step of our journey of becoming foster-care parents in hopes to eventually adopt a child. After sitting in a meeting with other parents like us, I learned that we all had the same idea: It is wonderful that so many want to open their homes and their lives to help foster kids.
The social worker running the meeting gave us a three-hour overview of what the process entails and it seems not very likely that you would necessarily get to adopt the first child that comes to your home. They try to place the children with extended family first.
The social worker explained the steps to getting the foster child’s parent(s) back on track and what they have to do to become and maintain a level she referred to as “minimally adequate.” That term just blows my mind, but for people who are either addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, have low to no job skills, no real parenting skills or even basic life skills, there is much training and support provided to them to get them to that level of “minimally adequate” so that they can take care of their own children. The extended family members that may step up to take in these kids would have to meet the “minimally adequate” level as well and may also have to go through the foster-care training and get a physical, too, to be sure they are up for the job. Then, of course, there are the background checks out of the hiring process. This step is followed to the letter.
My heart was breaking for these parents and their “broken children,” as the social worker called them. Regardless of whatever external situations occurred, at the core as a parent you love your child.
Something that the social worker pointed out about the “broken children” is that they want to be with their families regardless, just as our children would always want to be with us. It’s just that something happened in their life that made it unsafe for them to stay living with their mom and/or dad and now they have to adjust to living with strangers. They will be scared, sad and confused.
This is where I feel Attachment Parenting can play a part in helping these child. Some things like cosleeping are not allowed by the foster care system, but nighttime parenting is still always important. Good nutrition, lots of attention and hugs, babywearing if a young child, positive encouragement, a good routine to their day and so on — all of it is so nurturing for any child but especially for a “broken child.”
The social worker made it clear that the gift of love a foster parent receives from these “broken children” is so much greater than the love foster parents give them. If and when their parents are successfully rehabilitated and the family is reunited, the gift to that child of being able to live with a nurturing foster family where they were loved on will last with that child forever.
The social worker said, “Yes, your heart will break when they leave you, if they are able to be reunified with their family. If your heart doesn’t break, then you didn’t let yourself love them enough.”
It seems to me as with everything in life, love is always the answer. I expect that my husband, my son and myself will have our hearts grow by leaps and bounds over this upcoming experience of opening our lives to help heal a “broken child.” It may be very challenging at times and every person is different, but we are up for it.
6 thoughts on “Expanding our attachment”
Melissa, first of all, I admire your family’s choice to foster a child. Right now, a close family member is experiencing something similar (she needed to take custody of her grandchildren for a number of reasons). While she is experiencing some challenging moments being their guardian (and boy does she love them), one comment she made really resonated with me. She said, “As much as they need discipline, they really just need to be loved.”
I totally agree that attachment parenting principles will not only come into play but are wonderful ways to help heal a “broken” child. To be honest, I find that many of the principles may help a “broken” adult learn how to love and be loved too.
How sad is it that there needs to be a law against co-sleeping 🙁
You are doing a wonderful thing. Best of luck in your journey.
We’ve often considered becoming a foster family for this very reason! It is so wonderful to think of a child who has been through a stressful or traumatic event being able to heal and rest in a loving, trusting, respectful environment.
I hope that you will keep us all updated on this new and exciting journey your family is taking.
Thanks, you all. I will definitely keep you updated as this progresses.
I know in my area there is a desperate need for more certified families to help out with fostering kids of all ages. There is even a program called “respite care” which basically gives a foster family a break like when they go on vacation and can’t take the foster child with them or if they need a day off to do errands, etc. You would be filling in and watching the child(ren) for a day or a few days so you would be able to help out but not as a long term thing. You do need to have gone through the training classes to be certified with your county.
I find it so sad that birthparents, by law, only have to provide “minimally adequate” care to their children. Blood ties are stressed over the actual care, time, effort, and love that a caretaker is able and willing to provide to the child. My husband and I are foster parents, and our foster daughter, whom we’ve had for 10 months (she’s almost 17 months now) is hopefully going back home to mom this week. If we didn’t befriend her and offer our continued assistance (and have her be open to it), I wouldn’t feel as comfortable having my baby going back to a less than stellar environment. I keep having to tell myself that in the end, even if the day-to-day life may be different than what we would’ve provided, she will grow up with her mother and never have to question why her firstmother abandoned her or gave up on her, thus necessitating that we adopt her. It breaks my heart, but this isn’t about me. She got the best start in life we could’ve provided for her, with tons of affection and attention, and all we can do is hope that she continues to demand it from her mom! 😉