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No Surrender

2012 September 21

“So,” I asked my friend Roy, who has nearly forty years of foster care experience, “when does the fun and rewarding part start?”

Feel like giving up? Throwing in the towel? Or is it kicking the can down the road?

Does it seem like you are making two steps forward only to take three steps back?

Well, then things are probably progressing normally.

“White Flag” by Ambrozjo

Peeling back the onion of a foster child’s emotional history can be traumatic and discouraging not just for them. Even things that would be normal for kids around that age can take on a whole new color in light of events from their past.

The emotional baggage they carry, sometimes not even knowing it or what it really is that hurts them, rears up at unexpected times and under circumstances that are at first unpredictable.

All of this can be very discouraging and may explain one of the reasons why foster children move from home to home. It’s sad, but there is a burn out effect, exacerbated by the all the self doubt that keeps whispering, “Maybe I’m not the best parent for this child,” because the stakes are that high: Mess this up and a life gets messed up.

Foster parenting is hard. You have to help these kids make progress and at the same time keep yourself sane. It’s easy to get your feelings hurt because they want someone else, whether it’s their real mom and dad or their idea of what they really want their mom and dad to be.

But then you get to sit on the porch and listen to them playing with their friends, and you know they’re feeling at home.

You get to reflect on all the progress they’ve made and what different people that have become from what they were before; they are becoming who they really are all because you provided a different environment.

So, keep giving hugs when you don’t get hugged back. Keep telling them you love them even when you don’t hear it back.

The fun part is where and when you find it; grab those moments and keep them – it’s okay to be greedy.

Never give up.

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