Continuing on this week with a focus on foster care/adoption awareness, I want to share with you some thoughts from families whose life’s story involve foster care and/or adoption. They have said “yes”, they have extended their hands and their home, and they are not just speaking words of life – but they are living out words of life.
I provided them with a list of common questions, and based on their actual experience(s), they provided some insightful answers. Please note, the words are their own and nothing is being shared without their permission/consent. If you are wanting to move forward and answer the call to care for the orphans, I pray that their words will help guide you in where your first or next step should be.
Family #2 – The Henley Family
This family is very precious to me. I first met them back in 2005, my first year of teaching. I had the joy of being able to have Hilary’s oldest daughter in my 1st grade class. Then, about 6 years later, I had the honor of having her second daughter in my class. I had the privilege that year of being able to see the heart of an adoptive mother. I watched her love fiercely, I saw her come alongside her daughter and walk through the dark valleys with her, I saw her celebrate the joys and successes with her, and I saw her reach out and build a support system for her daughter. She did what any mother would do for their child…because she is her mom. What I saw, was the power of a mother’s love for her daughter – her child. I wanted to share her thoughts on adoption for many reasons, but mainly – I wanted you to see that, even through dealing with, as she says, “an extreme case” of RAD, she is thankful that she was chosen to be this child’s mother. To quote her, “My plan was to foster sibling sets but God had a different plan, He put this passion in my heart and prepared and equipped me to be a perfect fit for my daughter!”. Thank you, Hilary for sharing a little bit of your journey with us.
Q1: What inspired or led you to get involved in foster care and/or adoption?
I am a type 1 diabetic and after having my bio daughter, I knew I was unable to have any more children but I felt I had more love to give!
Q2: What, if any, were some of the things that made you hesitant in choosing to foster/adopt?
I honestly don’t know that I was hesitant at all.
Q3: How long have you been a foster/adoptive parent?
7 plus years
Q4: If someone came to you wanting advice on whether to move forward with the process of becoming a foster home, what would you tell them?
I would tell them to be sure to be prepared to do for and be what these children need. These are broken, hurt, abandoned, sometimes mentally ill children. Find a good therapist, which is not as easy as it sounds, fight for and never give up on these kids. Be prepared to keep any child that steps foot in your door forever! These kids cannot be passed around no matter how they behave. You are the adult, they are the children who have lived a lifetime of hurt in a small life. The kind of pain most of us will never experience in our lifetime. You have to have this resolve coming into it because these kids are all hurt. For them, it may be easy to trust and love a second or third time but fourth, fifth, etc. no one would find it easy to trust ever again.
Q5: As a foster/adoptive parent, what are some ways you feel people around you can better support you?
My adoptive child has reactive attachment disorder, which because of not having a proper therapists who knew, it got severely worse to the point of going inpatient for a while. I now have educated myself on her disorder but I am very isolated. She cannot even handle being in school. I have her home and her mental illness has her torture the mommy all day and all night. I have zero respite. Most days I cannot even shower because she can’t handle me being out of her sight.
Q6: What is one of the biggest misconceptions you feel is associated with a child in foster care?
That they are all going to be eternally grateful to you for bringing them into your home. Or that they will behave anything like your bio children because they will not. They will test you to see if you are like everyone else who failed them.
Q7: What one piece of advice/encouragement would you give to a new foster/adoptive parent?
Bringing a child into your home, giving them a family and love is a precious gift. Following God’s plan for your life and family will give you more spiritual blessings than you could imagine.
Q8: What are your thoughts about becoming a foster/adoptive parent while having biological children still living at home?
Foster or adopt children the same age or younger without exception. My child is an extreme case, which is what I am going off of, but they have been hurt and could easily physically, emotionally or sexually hurt a smaller child. Other than that it is a gift to them to see what you will do for other kids. To give them that example is a life lesson they will keep forever. My bio daughter says she wants to adopt three kiddos when she grows up and she has it rough with the other child having RAD.
Q9: People are afraid they won’t bond with a child that “isn’t theirs”, they fear a child won’t bond with them, they fear loving a child and then having that child ripped away from them. What would your response be to these fears? Do the rewards outweigh the risks?
They may not bond or they may have a hard time bonding. They may be ripped away and it all may hurt. But, are you doing this for you or for them? Find your motivation and make sure you are doing this for these broken children!
Q10: Do you regret entering the world of foster care/adoption? Why or why not?
Not once. It is hard every day but I get to wake up each morning knowing I am healing a child’s heart that everyone else turned their back on. God placed her with me. He chose me as her mommy!