Two and a half years ago my husband and I adopted our son out of foster care. Today, I can thankfully say that while this has without a doubt been the most challenging experience of my life, it has also been the most worthwhile. Our son's presence in our family has caused us each to grow, to become stronger, and to become better, both individually and as a family. We are as blessed that he came into our lives, if not more so, as our son is that we came into his.
Looking back, as eager as we may have been to give a home to a child who might not otherwise have a family, we had very little understanding of what to expect. Florida’s mandated MAPP training program for foster and adoptive families does what it can to educate and prepare prospective parents. However, former foster children have a myriad of issues unique to this population. It has been my observation that until your child is actually living with you it is impossible to grasp the enormity of the extreme behaviors, events, and emotions likely to be encountered. As with many other adoptive families, we had no idea how to handle these issues when they arose. Moreover, we had no clear direction on where to turn for assistance.
We are resourceful people, though, and during our toughest moments I would seek out the insight and advice of other families who had travelled this road before us. Their shared experiences provided the reassurance that as long as we persevered, we too would find our way. And so we have continued to work at figuring out life as a foster adoptive family, to keep learning, to keep looking for solutions and, when problems arise, to persist in finding the support resources to help our son and our family.
Through this blog, my intention is to offer an honest look at the challenges involved in raising former foster children while also focusing on how the families profiled have successfully overcome and/or learned to productively manage their children’s special needs. Links to resources for those who have adopted or are considering adopting foster children will also be included. Questions, comments, and suggestions are welcome, so please feel free to comment and/or contact me.
Life with an adopted former foster child is filled with more ups and downs than a roller coaster. Luckily, borrowing a line from Mary Steenburgen's character in the movie Parenthood, I like the roller coaster. As you will see from the stories to follow, many others do, too!