Happy National Adoption Awareness Month!! To those who have adopted; I want to thank you. For those who haven’t, and are thinking about it, I hope my story encourages and helps you. When I was young, at the age of eight, I was adopted by the Turner family.
The Turner’s taught me about family, love, and God’s Grace and Mercy ….. but it wasn’t an easy ride. For those thinking about adoption or possibly becoming foster parents, I would love to give you some encouraging advice. These children you are thinking of helping or raising…..I have been in their shoes. I know what they think or how they feel. Things they wish you knew, but don’t know how to express. I would like to give you a peek into their lives and minds…. specifically brought into your home at 8 or older. I think it’s important for everyone and anyone to know before stepping into the process of fostering or adoption to remember this #1 thing. I like to call it the Golden Rule because it’s that important. “Don’t step into this with the mindset of that you are walking into a Build A Bear Workshop.” Any child, especially those with a traumatic past aren’t toys you can pick, customize, and dress up. You see children in the adoption field, don’t have the mindset of a normal child. They were raised different, often with the mindset to “survive.” Most children are taught basic manners; such as please and thank you but not those who end up in foster care. They were raised to laugh at that, to take that as a joke. They know how to steal, lie, cheat, and many other things. For example, my biological mother taught me how to steal anything like a professional, and sadly how to sell my body to men starting from the time I was 4 years of age “so that” when I became a woman I would know how to make it in life. Most kids that age were being asked what they would like to be when they grow up or what food they wanted for lunch? Most foster care kids have never been asked those questions in their biological home. It’s just not how they were raised. Like any child, I took pride in that fact, because I was doing what I was taught super well. But when I became adopted, my wonderful mom, who is Kirsten, taught me please and thank you. She asked me what my dreams and goals were and she encouraged and supported me. Over time, my mind changed with lots of time and patience.
I can remember foster parents having an “inspection day”, if you will. Some foster parents or those planning to adopt, get to meet the child before taking them into their home to see if they would like the child. So imagine going to the park with the child, along with the social worker....You laugh with them, swing him or her maybe even go get ice cream. But you go home saying no,I didn’t like this child because of this or I don’t want to foster or adopt them because of this attribute. Now the social worker has to then do the hard part for the child and tell them no. The scar and hurt that child has is unimaginable to most people. What goes through their minds is this: What’s wrong with me? Did I say or do something? Was it my eye color? My hair color? What do I have they don’t want? This tends to happen a lot more than you think. Sadly many people walk into this thinking they get to pick their perfect child. I want that thinking to STOP! If you don’t you’ll not only be hurting yourself, but even more so the child. God tells us every child, and any child is special and unique. Each child has his or her own gift to change this world for the better. They just need your help to see that in themselves.
Now that we have established the golden rule I’m going to explain what to expect when bringing the child into your home especially those who are a bit older. Have you ever heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words”? If so, great!! This little saying is going to take you far. If not then please engrave it in the front of your mind right beside the golden rule out of love for whatever age child your raising, I can promise you we are going to act out like a toddler who didn’t get a cookie after dinner, and here’s why. We want to see if you can truly love us. I know that sounds crazy but we will do everything in our power to see if you will continue to work and stay in our lives. Remember we didn’t grow up with people pouring time, effort, and energy into our well being mentally, emotionally, and physically. Some children will push you away, some will use harsh language and other things. As a parent it’s your job to recognize these signs and especially since each child is different. For me personally, I would push my parents away. I’m not taking physically I mean emotionally. I wouldn’t talk, I would say harsh things to hurt their feelings, just to see if they would send me back to the dog house known as foster care. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Don’t do what you want to do naturally. Don’t yell back, or spank the child. DON’T DO THAT! Honestly you don’t know that childs’ history and background. (Trust me...everything they have been through is not in their file) Please do the totally opposite. Please stay calm, look the child in the eyes, and say these simple words: I Love You, and I’m Not Going To Let You Go. Then follow those words with a hug or a kiss. When you do this our hard and stubborn walls break down. Our hearts become soft, and you just showed that child God’s love and forgiveness. You taught him or her how God leaves the 99 to find the 1 sheep. You also made the child feel worthy, which they don’t feel. Now at times it’s normal to fail at this, and yell or spank the child. But it’s important for you to remember to not let the “wall of Pride” stand in the way of going to that child and saying those words to him or her…. I love you and i’m not going to let you go. They notice …. your actions, how you love, how you encourage, how you take the time to fix their food and how you become brave to protect them from harm. They will notice but not say anything because to them it’s new. God also teaches this. Jesus didn’t come to earth saying I love you, and peace out. No, he came and said I love you and died for you. That child also needs to know you would do the same for them and isn’t that what the gospel is all about, showing love to those who have never been shown love. I hope this encourages you. Please don’t let this scare you away from painting the beautiful picture of Christ’s love. I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s easy. It’s not, but our walk with the Lord isn’t easy either. Look at the blessings God has given you for being his faithful servant.
Now here’s my message for the child that God has placed in your life or on your heart…… Break down those walls, and let these parents in. They aren’t just another person, they will be your person. They will help grow, love, and support your dreams and goals. These parents want to grow and go through every stage of life with you. Don’t be afraid to tell them the yucky stuff. It’s worse to stuff that inside and never heal. Show them your heart. Don’t shy away from sharing with them how you were hurt, hit, what it was like to hear the gun shot, what it’s like to see a life taken from this world in front of your eyes……How you went nights without meals……. How she or he hurt you, when their roles were to protect you. And always remember the hurt you went through doesn’t define you. The bruises don’t shape you. The scar and blood stains don’t make you. Those will heal and wash away. Remember you are smart, kind, and strong. But doing the same wrong that was done to you doesn’t make you strong, it makes you weak. What makes you strong, is doing the hard thing and letting them into your heart. Grow with them, enjoy life now. There’s now reason to survive!!. Now you can enjoy movie nights, slumber parties, and soccer games. Know that when you fail a test or break a dish they won’t send you back. When you do drugs or get into fights at school they aren’t going to stop loving you. Rest in the fact that God has given you a forever home. Rest in the fact that they will care and comfort you for the rest of their lives.