You’ve just welcomed a new child into your home! You’re making appointments, enrolling them in school, adjusting your plans, and managing all the big feelings in your home (from the children and you!). What did you just do??
Can I normalize a few things for you today?
If you don’t feel bursts of love, that makes sense. You didn’t know this child yesterday and love takes time. I’ve been there.
If you worry you just messed up your family, that makes sense. Transitions are hard and inviting a new child to join your family is going to affect everyone. I’ve been there.
If you are struggling with your new child’s behaviors, that makes sense. Your child has been through things you will never truly understand. They are grieving, they are confused, they are scared. Their brain is currently wired for protection, not connection. And guess what, God designed your brain and body to react in a protective way too when faced with something that feels like a threat. And there are certainly days when our child’s grief and anger feels like a threat-pushing us further away from them. I’ve been there.
If you wonder if you made a mistake signing up to foster, that makes sense. What you have done, inviting a child into your home, that is BIG and HARD and MESSY and feeling like that isn’t proof you’ve made a mistake but proof that what you are doing is hard and it MATTERS. I’ve been there.
But here is where I’ve also been.
I’ve parented a child with protective walls built high and I watched him slowly take them down.
I’ve felt “love bursts” for a child a year after welcoming them in. Yes, it sometimes takes a year. Sometimes longer.
I’ve parented a child who stopped pushing me away and finally let me in.
I’ve watched a child put away his hands and use his words.
I’ve watched God restore a child to Himself and to others, because that is the business He is in. And he used my obedience to keep showing up, often times when I didn’t feel it, to become a healing agency in a child’s life. And in that process He also changed me.
Today, if you feel like giving up, if you can’t imagine your life getting any easier, if you can’t imagine your family ever feeling healthy, can you be brave and reach out and tell someone?
In isolation, these beliefs lead to destruction but out in the open, they can lead to the first steps of hope and healing for your family.
How do I know? I’ve been there. Lots of us have. If you have no one else to tell, you can tell me.
Ashley Bennett, Director of Trauma Informed Care firstname.lastname@example.org