Friday, February 20, 2009

More Questions

Before I start this post, please feel free to email or comment any questions you may have, I enjoy answering them! :)

A fellow single mom emailed me to ask a few questions. She and her eight year old son are looking at adoption to add to their family. After looking at different ways to adopt, she has decided to adopt from the foster care system.

Her first question ...
is in regards to the way that you make one-on-one time with each of your kids. My son is 8 years old and he has been an only child that entire time. Although he has always wanted siblings I know that once he gets them he will need to get used to everything that used to be "his" now being "ours." And one thing I really wanted to do was make time for each of the children separately. You seem to do a good job of that and I was wondering if you could share your "technique."

As far as one on one time, that's hard sometimes, especially being single. I try to connect with each of them one on one during the day however I can. That may be making a point of asking each of them at dinner what they did during their day (and really listening! :) ), or reading a book with them, helping with homework, whatever I can fit in and do without others feeling bad. (If we are having a rough day it doesn't always get done the way I would like.)

I also this year began getting a babysitter from our local Christian college to take the kids out one on one for special time. The first part of the year I had a sitter who came every week. It was great as I was able to take out the kids and have a night a month for myself as well. BUT, it didn't work so well with Braeden. He is extremely active and the sitter had a hard time setting limits and following through so he began to walk all over her. (Not that he was innocent!) She eventually quit. So, I hired a new sitter for this part of the year and for now am just having her come every other week. So far so good.

Usually on their night out we go out to dinner and then to some activity. Unfortunately for Olivia the activity is usually hanging out at Barnes and Noble when it's a school night as she has homework to do. But she still likes the time together. I try to do more with her on our school days off, but then often "pay" for it because of her attachment issues. (We typically have at least a few days, if not a week or two, of just obstinate behavior and tantrums.) :(

I haven't done as much yet with Liam as he's still young and actually loves spending the time with our sitter. Liam is my morning cuddler though, that's his special time of day. Olivia works on getting herself ready while I get the boys up. Braeden usually asks for "five more minutes" so he sleeps a little longer while Liam and I cuddle on the couch prior to getting dressed and ready to go. :)

The other question that I had was in regards to interactions and building relationships with birth families. To be really honest this is one area that I feel very mixed or cautious about. My primary concern is the well-being of the child and I would want the child to have a positive relationship with their birth parent if possible, but ?? How to navigate that and decide if it is a good idea for the child at the time...I feel unsure about how to make these decisions. I understand that some of this deals with very personal decisions and I am not trying to be too personal or nosey. I just think that you seem very level headed and have a genuine desire to create a bond with the birth family that I find admirable. I would appreciate any advice or thoughts on this subject as it is one that I have so much uncertainty about.

Parental contact is a hard one. Especially because these aren't parents who are knowingly and thoughtfully making an adoption plan. They have had their children taken from them for one or many of a number of reasons. You will just have to feel it out and see what will work best for you, for the child, and for your family. At the very least I had hoped for each to be able to share letters and pictures as they grew. So far Liam's is even better than that, and we are able to do visits.

I think as you take a child and get to know the parents, or at least the situation of why the child was removed, you'll have a better feel for what is comfortable. The process of a child in foster care is typically very long and you'll unfortunately have lots of time. (I shouldn't say always though, you could perhaps take a child who was in another foster home and they aren't adopting??? Then you could maybe ask the foster family???)

The other thing to remember is that many bio parents will see you as the bad guy. You are the one caring for their child 24/7 while they can't for whatever reason. Instead of accepting responsibility, many look at the foster parent as taking their child. (I won't say all because I have heard of some positive situations, but with my experiences this has been the case.) You are caring for them "better" than they could, dressing them "better", doing more with them, etc. It's hard for them and they respond by saying things about you or what have you. When Liam would go to a visit with even one little scratch (he's a growing boy after all!) bio mom would say I was abusing him. The agency knew it was all talk, but it was still hard to hear. We have a much better relationship now. I think a lot of that changed because she saw I wasn't just taking him away from her, but was willing to have an open relationship. A lot of it is just going to be on an individual basis unfortunately. I did a post kind of about this recently, don't know if you caught it??? With Braeden's it was a no go from the start as it was a very violent situation. We even had to get an order of protection for he and I during the final part. Luckily I had never met them. BUT, I do wish I had a way of letting them know how he is doing through photos.

*** Update to my answer to this particular question. Prior to writing this, and even more since I did, I have thought a lot about trying to get at least a letter to each of the kids' birth families. I know that Braeden's is in our area. I could have a way to get a letter to them letting them know how Braeden is doing. I don't want to give them pictures, but maybe information. And I could give them my PO box if they wanted to send him a letter. I am still praying about this, but feel like it's a path I may try. He asks about them often and I would love to have some info or maybe even a picture of them to show him. I just don't know.

I don't think I have even that option with Olivia's, but do have one person I could ask to see if they ever have contact with her any longer.

I could use prayers on this area if you feel so led! :)


Kellie said...

Praying that you have guidance as to what to do re: your kids' birth families, and that any future contact is only beneficial to them.

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About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!

Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

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