Don’t call us, we’ll call you

May 21, 2012

“The hurt child”

I’m on my third adoption book now. And, WHOA, it’s a doozy (I definitely need that fiction break!). I certainly don’t consider myself squeamish (I actually enjoy reading about the complexities of incarceration), but this is one of the hardest books I have ever read. Ever. It’s called Adopting the Hurt Child: Hope for Families with Special-Needs Kids. You just don’t ever want to think about the kinds of things that they’re describing happening to children. Having to face the reality, on page after page, that these things do happen to hundreds of thousands of kids is difficult (understatement of the year). Perhaps I just haven’t arrived at the hope part yet . . .

It’s probably as telling as anything that about 30 pages in I actually wanted to stop reading it. And I never want to stop reading anything I’ve started. I was just coming off You Can Adopt: An Adoptive Families Guide, which even though it does address all aspects of adoption, including “hurt children,” is a bit rah-rah-rah. You can adopt! It will work out! Here’s how to do it! Ready, go! (Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a great resource, I just think maybe I should have read it after Adopting the Hurt Child).

But I am pressing on and realizing some important things. For one, there is a certain comfort in working with adults in the criminal justice system. Even though many, if not most, have experienced the trauma the book is describing, I’m seeing them as full-grown men, strong for having lived through various kinds of hell; strong for being willing to talk about it and to seek help and to just keep surviving. It’s much harder to envision the children in this book, almost frozen in these devastating circumstances.

The other thing that’s been growing in my mind is that in some ways my background is ideally suited for adopting through the foster-care system. Considering a “special needs” adoption forces you to really think about what you expect from your children, and how you would cope if your children veered from those expectations. A couple of weeks ago my friend Emily, my resident child development expert, asked if I do a certain child development activity with Addison, and I responded something like: Not really. I’m not very intentional about it anyway. It’s more intuitive for my mom . . . but when Addison goes to jail, I’ll know just what to do! Of course, I don’t want Addison to go to jail or prison, but it’s definitely something I think I could deal with. I’ve played out that possibility in my head, considering what I would do in various scenarios (does that sound weird? When I’m sick I end up with a lot of time on my hands!), and I certainly don’t assume that Addison is immune to those kinds of problems simply because she is my child and has been blessed with many advantages in this life.

I guess the point is that when you think your child being incarcerated would be tough, but workable, and you’ve already considered strategies for getting through it, perhaps you are precisely the kind of parent that some “hurt child” could really use. Perhaps.

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5 Comments »

  1. Just another post describing how you are a better person than me . . . Are you free to chat tomorrow? If so, I will call!

    Comment by v. blanchard — May 21, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

    • I definitely wouldn’t say that! Ever, but especially because this is still just me mulling things over…

      Comment by llcall — May 22, 2012 @ 12:00 am

  2. Happened upon your blog when you asked for votes on the hugging issue 🙂 and have read several of your posts. Love your blog. Seems like we have a lot in common and I can’t resist but to give some unsolicited advice as a foster parent and as family and friend of foster parents and foster children. Before you jump into the fostercare thing, talk to other foster parents in your area. Get a feel for how the system works locally (not just the training classes, where they want to sell it to you) maybe find a foster parent support group and talk to them. Remember most of all that Fostercare is not a gauranteed way to grow a family. Because of confidentiality I would guess the books don’t paint a real clear picture of the flaws in the system, although I’ve never read them. Almost everyone I know has lost several kids to various situations before they were allowed to adopt one (if ever). Also think very hard about how it will effect your little one. She is young enough that unless you are able to get a baby, she will likely spend many years looking up to and dare I say following any children placed in your home whether they are permanent, good role models, safe around young children, etc or not… and even the ones the caseworkers tell you are adoptable often don’t get to be adopted by the families that care for them. That being said, there are many many lovely children who desperately need homes, so if you really feel called to it God be with you!

    Comment by Mom of 3 — July 8, 2012 @ 1:37 am

    • Thanks for your thoughts! Talking to foster parents in our area is definitely one of our next steps. We have been in contact with a number of people who fostered/fost-adopted in other areas, but so far the only contacts we have here are those who are also just starting the process. People have warned us about the local county trying to “sell” us on it and not being brutally honest, but it was interesting to have the opposite experience when we went to our first meeting. They were absolutely brutally honest about the fact that this is for their children and they are not about creating families as much as getting their children good care. It was rather stark and we know that some of the people at the meeting came away kind of upset, but I think it was good to get it straight. There are so many things to consider and I was glad that even though that meeting was kind of overwhelming, they were clearly not sugar-coating anything. Our thinking about foster care/adoption is constantly evolving (and I’ve got a couple other half-written blog posts about that evolution) but so far we do feel good about this path.

      Comment by llcall — July 9, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

      • I’m glad you feel good about it!
        My experience was that there were 2 different audiences in those initial meetings. Most who really cared about the kids, those were sold on the “we’re in this for the kids” line but a few who were interested in the $ that comes with the child… especially the special needs ones.

        We too were told similar to what you were, but then when it boiled down to reality the problems we thought we would face were minor compared to the mess that the system really is. I thought I would fill you in on some of the details to look out for, but it was really long, so I deleted it. Feel free to email me if you want to…

        Comment by Mom of 3 — July 9, 2012 @ 9:28 pm


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