Let Them Love You

One part of my job with the agency I work for is to recruit foster families.  I show a brief documentary about a foster/adoptive family to prospective families as part of this effort. The images and story of the family gives a brief yet insightful glimpse into the life of a typical foster home.  It also does a great job of promoting and showing the struggles and work, yet joy that is found in being a foster family.

My favorite part is an interview with a 16-year-old boy who was residing in the home as a foster placement   I’m not entirely sure of his whole story, but I get the feeling that he had been passed around a lot and moved from placement to placement.  In his interview, the teen describes moving into the family’s home and how much he liked it.  He then moved on to giving advice to families who want to foster and adopt out of the system.  His words “Let Them Love You” are ones that are hard to forget.

At first, I thought he meant for children to let the foster families love them, but then I realized that he meant foster and adoptive families need to let the children love them.  Sometimes, it seems foster families give in too quick when a child does not attach right away, or is not the right fit for their home.  The matching of families and children is so difficult when placement is needed immediately.  I also understand the complex and sometimes severe issues that cause disruptions in and out of homes.  However, I just can’t get his words out of my mind.

I have heard many people say “I could never be a foster parent because I would get too attached.”  I know the pain of being attached to a child, yet having to step one foot at a time into the unknown.  I get it.  Despite the hardship of it all, the children need attachment.  They need for families to love them to the point of not wanting to let them go, but they also need families who will recognize that reunifying with birth family is extremely important.

There are over 1000,000 children and youth available for adoption in the United States Foster Care System.  Many are children with medical, emotional, and behavioral challenges.  Many are part of large sibling groups.  Many have meandered through the system without ever setting roots anywhere.  Many are like the teenager who spoke on the video I described above.  Too many are not anywhere long enough to be allowed to love anyone.

I think the best thing those of us working within child welfare could do to make it better is to listen to the kids who are living life in a system made up of judges, case workers, lawyers, and temporary parents.  They have so much to offer us if we just took the time to listen.  We need to hear to their words and take heed to their insights.  We need to give them the opportunity express their hearts and feelings just like the teenager on the video.

We need to let them love.

Words of My Heart

Wow.  I can’t believe that I started this blog one month ago.  I also can’t believe I waited so long to start blogging.  This month has been a phenomenal time of discovery, writing, thinking, writing, praying, writing, connecting, and of course writing.  Throughout this month I have been able to share a bit of my journey here on Earth, as well as, learn about others.  I sort of think of myself now as part of a community of women and families who have been challenged by infertility and/or ones who are in the process of stepping outside of themselves so that they can be families for foster children.

I have found myself wondering if my experience growing up would have been totally different had I been given the opportunity to share my feelings about infertility with others who could relate.  Just knowing that there were others out there experiencing a small portion of what I was dealing with would have made a huge impact in my life.  Of course, I was a young girl so the level of relatability would have been different from adults going through it.  I don’t know for sure if I would have taken the opportunity due to being an adolescent, but still, I really wished there would have been blogs around, or the Internet for that matter.

I kept my “story” inside my heart and mind for the past 29 years since my hysterectomy.  I really did not speak the words of my heart very often.  Sure, I have shared parts with close friends, family, and my husband.  I have even been asked to give my testimony to various groups, but, writing pieces of it out has brought life to my thoughts kept buried for so many years.  It has also given me a sense of gratitude for where I am now.

I read other women’s blogs about their struggles and what they are currently going through with trying to have a family.  They are discovering the road to becoming parents has taken sharp turns or completely come to a dead end.  I hear their pain in their words.  I feel it in my heart.  I wish I could assure them that some aspects of infertility may affect them for the rest of their lives, but it does not make up their whole lives.

I had to learn growing up that there was more to me than not having children, and there was more to being a woman than having children.  My children do not define me.  Pregnancy would not make me anymore female.  This was a battle I struggled with for so long that my heart aches for women going through it.  Infertility, although it has felt like it at times, is not my whole life.

I won’t lie.  I’m so thankful for my pain of barrenness being something in the past.  I’m incredibly blessed to be at this place of peace and contentment.  Yet, I never want to forget the molding, sharpening, and refining that my experience has done for me.  I remember what it was like to walk around wondering if I would ever feel normal.  There were times I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders or that I had to figure out what I was going to do about what happened to me.  I found though that the more I tried to figure it all out, the worse I felt about my circumstance.

I could not control what happened.  I could not even control what was going to happen in the future.  I could choose to grasp onto the hope that something good was bound to come from all of this.  I also began to realize that I needed to rely more on my faith in a loving Heavenly Father than the persuasions and suggestions of the world.  No one could ever really tell me how to manage it even if they tried.  So, I kept it all in.  I spoke very little of it.

Realizing that I am exactly who God created me to be is the most profound feeling of love and contentment.  I think back when I was a young girl who had been dealt a very difficult hand in life, and am amazed now at the sense of purpose I have found in it.  I am not an expert in the entire experience of infertility, but I am an expert in my own.  All of us going through the heartache of trying to have a family to call our own have varying stories of loss, hope, despair, and joy that intertwine through out our walks.  Even though the set of details might differ, the ability to relate and empathize with others has been wonderful and so needed in my life.  Bless you for the encouraging words several of you have said to me, and especially for taking the time to read the words of my heart.