Monday, May 21, 2012

Loss is a Four Letter Word

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
Proverbs 31:8-9

Facts and Figures
      Last month we had our annual seminar at the foster/adoption agency that I'm with. It was very informative but I think the best thing that I loved hearing was the stories. When you hear stories from other foster/adoptive parents and then from the adopted children themselves you get a picture of the pit falls, joys, and pain. These stories are not for the faint at heart. Being a foster family is asking to take a journey of uncertainty.
      What stuck out most were the stories of the adopted children. Many who were adopted as infants really didn't have any desire to seek out their birth parents but the ones who had known their birth parents took journeys to find their birth families. Which ever way my daughter wants to go I will be supportive. I want her to feel free to write her story the way she wants to. She will always be my daughter but I know that she is connected with these people who have made up her past and I will never deny her that understanding.
     I want to segway into a four letter word that we have been trained about. It's a four letter word that has a lot of power and repercussions it's the word LOSS. Through understanding loss we can understand the process by which children in the foster care system process their emotions. Kubler Ross a psychologist developed the stages of grief which happens after a loss. First stage is denial, then it's bargaining, and then comes anger, and then depression, coping, and finally acceptance or management of loss.
      As adults we understand loss, we can wrap our heads around the stages and yet many people stay in one stage or another sometimes for a life time. There are 3 types of loss: loss of health, loss of a significant person, loss of self-esteem. When people identify what significantly makes them angry it's usually a loss of self esteem for example: think of the last time you were angry this week. Things like my husband/wife didn't get dinner ready on time, my boss promoted someone who can't do their job correctly, or my child hit someone at school. These are all examples of losses of self esteem.
   The thinking being if someone loved you enough to feed you it would be done on time, if your boss knew how hard you were working they would have promoted you not your incompetent co-worker, your child hitting another child at school can insinuate that you aren't a good enough parent to control your child. All of these things are losses that we either fly through the stages of grief over or we get stuck in one stage and can't get ourselves out of it. Lets take the example of the dinner being served on time. Lets say you get into a fight over the dinner time and the lack of it being on the table then later that week you still haven't let it go and you're in the anger stage. You start becoming angry at anything your husband/wife does because your heart is hurt and  you have not yet let it go. When you accept and let it go you are able to manage that loss without letting it effect your relationships. does this effect a foster/adopted child? Every person has at 3 "parents" people who birth them, people who raise them, and people who have authority over them. For most of us all those "parents" lie in just 2 people, for those of us who have won the parent monopoly our parents birthed us, raised us, and have legal authority over us. For children in not only foster care but also adoption situations these "parents" are all different people. You have the birth parents who gave the genes, the adoptive parents who raise them, and the State who has authority over them until they are fully adopted. So, these children come into the system with substantial loss. They have lost their connection with their birth family, which contains history, culture, family norms, and traditions. Most of them have lost the innocence of the world being a safe place for them. Some have lost their sexual innocence. Their losses are more then we really know. These children come into our homes in the middle of the stages of grieving having no concept of what's going on to them, so their behavior reflects that. Infants, don't make eye contact, cry a lot, and have rigid bodies. These are also signs of drug detox which is why many children get put into foster/adoptive families.
     Older children will exhibit temper tantrums, extreme anger, depression, self mutilation, sexual activity, defiance, and running away. This child is coming into your family with these behaviors and you have to figure out how to begin the journey of healing with them. It's all about the children. That has to be your motto. If you have to stay home from work to stay connected with them, or if you have to be at their therapies its all about the children/child. This is the sacrifice that's required of you. It's a constant laying down of your life for the betterment of the child who is in your care who came to you experiencing loss.
   We have to be loss managers, people who can not only identify but manage our response to loss so in turn helping our children heal from their own. The best way is to return to love, aiming your love at the loss and processing your continued value. Understanding that your value doesn't change no matter what happens and neither does your children's. Every child has the right to have a healthy, safe, life giving environment to grow up in. We have the privilege to have these children in our families. Being a foster/adoptive parent isn't a right it's an honor. When we see it this way we become less demanding for perfection and take the lower road of humility towards healing. Every child is a blessing!

Thoughts and Journal Entries
June 2011 

           For  first time in my life I got lice. Not going to lie, I thought that it was this new shampoo that I bought a while ago so I think I've had the lice for several months not knowing. It was a burning feeling in the back of my head and I kept scratching but I had no idea! I freaked out! Since my life long goal is to be a missionary and I'm usually not scared of many creatures big or small  it makes me laugh now about how much I freaked about it. This is my final month at my job and my student said "oh yeah don't worry we get them all the time in England." What?! OMG how crazy! Anyway after I freaked out my friend from Thailand who was visiting me helped me comb out all the eggs and kill every last louse. She thought it was fun since it too is very common in Thailand. I had seen a bug in the baby's hair when I first got her but the Dr. had said there was no way she had lice she was too little apparently it doesn't stick on the hair shaft because it's too thin. It might have been in the bag of clothing I got when I got her as well.
    Everything in my house went in the wash. I killed every last egg and got my hair cut as well as the baby's just to be safe. Man, talk about an experience being sleep deprived, working, and now running down to the washer and dryer a million times it was rough. I'm getting use to the sleepless nights. It's not as bad as it use to be really she only gets up about 2 times a night now and I can manage with a whole pot of coffee a day :) My poor liver, after she starts sleeping better I'll have to go on a cleanse.
   My agency social worker started only coming every other week so I don't have to make sure the house is spectacular every week I can relax a bit now. It's so hard to have someone look over your shoulder every week judging you on if you're a good parent or not. I've never been a parent before of course I don't know what I'm doing (Thank God for Google amen).
   You know I haven't had to buy diapers since I first got baby girl? People have been so generous that I've literally haven't needed to buy her diapers yet.
  We went to the beach for the first time it was so beautiful and fun!  We also went to six flags and the Getty this month. I do realize that these aren't really baby friendly places but I think she had fun. Baby is growing so big and learning so much. Any detachment issues when she came are completely gone. When I first got her I just held her skin to skin contact for weeks, got her on a routine and made sure at least for the first 3 weeks I was the one mainly holding her. It is great that I've had support during church when I'm working people are looking out for her when I'm doing the kids or worship. I love the body of support!
    I'm less active in evening activities with my friends because having a baby stay up at night is hard so I'm missing out on a lot of socializing. Anyone who watches baby has to be background checked and finger printed and all that is about 60$ which makes it hard to get babysitters that and not really having finances for babysitters. This is where I really wish my mom was around or even my sister. Having family is important when it comes to having children. I miss having the family structure around. It's amazing and hard having someone depend on you 24/7. If I don't feed her she doesn't eat, if I don't bathe her she doesn't get clean ect. All these things have to be consistent whether you feel like it or not. You have to keep it together and push on loving when all your energy, love, and emotions are drained and all you want to do is sleep for a month straight.
     On a lighter note baby girl has started eating some mashed food and I'm making it all organic and homemade I think I'm winning mother of the year award...I think there should be an award for every mother every day because they do a lot that may never be seen. I hope for those readers out there who need encouragement know that you're not alone in raising those babies. Even if it feels like you're all tapped out it's ok everything will come into place!
Too cute with her baby jeans!

Patito bath time!

Baby's first 1/2 Christmas

First time at the beach right after lice incident


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