It is impossible for anyone to truly understand the emotions that come along with parenting kids who have lived traumatic lives until he or she has became that parent. No one can truly understand how the fear of the unkown changes a person until he/she has walked a life of raising kids who were removed from abusive and neglectful homes.
Even with great faith, when you do become that parent, your whole life is changed in ways that you never knew were possible. Sometimes or a lot of times you wonder where the “old” you has went. The one who wasn’t so frustrated. The one who wasn’t so frustrated because others might not always get trauma or understand what your life really looks like behind closed doors.
But, I was one of the ones who didn’t fully understand before I started this journey. One of the ones who didn’t really understand what others were walking through. Sure, my whole adult life prior to becoming a foster and adoptive parent, I had worked with children who lived through trauma. But, I still didn’t fully understand what the kids were actually going through in their homes. I didn’t understand why they acted or behaved in certain ways because I hadn’t actually been a foster or adoptive mom.
Now, I am glad I didn’t always understand because the Lord is gently reminding me that it’s okay if everyone doesn’t get it at first. It isn’t possible for them to, and I shouldn’t expect them to ever understand fully. He is teaching me that I need to show more mercy and grace. I have had to do the same exact thing for myself when I have handled situations the wrong way. I have had to ask for mercy and grace. And, I have to continue to try to move forward a little at a time.
However, I will be the first to admit that it is so difficult for me not to become defensive, and so many times I do because I have such a desire for others to understand or at least try to get what these kids have been through. What we have all been through… What they continue to go through. What we continue to go through… What they will face the rests of their lives… What we will all face the rest of our lives…
At times, the Lord has given me a chance to speak these past 4 years. He’s given me a voice that can speak too quickly and abruptly at times. But, if He hadn’t given me those rare opportunities through all of this, where would these kids be today? Would they even be alive? I know at least two of them most likely would not be if things hadn’t turned out the way they have so far. And, just because the others were old enough to open cans of cold ravioli for all of their meals if it was even available, it doesn’t mean they should have had to. They just barely survived and have seen and heard more in their short little lives than most adults have seen and heard. And, it is way more than just cold ravioli. I could spend hours explaining why children often rock back and forth in the floor in the fetal position while screaming and crying. I could talk all day about the self abusive behaviors, aggression, or about food hoarding. But, sometimes I don’t know if I took all of the time in the world even up until my last breath to explain every last detail if it would change other’s views because they don’t live what we do. And, that’s okay.
But, please be prepared if I get defensive. Because I am living it. And, so are they.
Most days we are all just surviving one second at a time. Trauma changes a child, but it also changes their foster parents, adoptive parents, and any other children in the home, too.
There is so much good that comes from this journey. And, it is so worth it, but it is also very difficult!! It is difficult on so many different levels due to a hundred thousand reasons. So, that’s why I do get way too defensive at times. I mean way too defensive. It comes from a great desire for everyone around us to just take a minute and try to understand.
If any of you who know me personally have wondered lately where the “old” me has went, please let me know if you ever find her. I really miss her a lot of days. And, I am sure my kids do, too. But, until we can dig her back out and brush her off, please show me a little grace and mercy. Please do the same for my children. We will also try our very bests to do the same with all of you even if you might not completely understand because we get it. We used to be in your place once, too. And, we are still learning how to peel back all of the layers of trauma a little at a time as we do our best to protect the ones who continue to suffer from it the most. It’s better to walk through this journey with others by our sides than to have to walk it alone. We are thankful for God’s mercy and grace and all of yours, too.