Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jigsaw Child


‘For I will restore you to health
And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the Lord,
‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
“It is Zion; no one cares for her.”
Jeremiah 30:17
Facts and Figures
       I want to talk about the Jigsaw child in this article. I'm going to be commenting on the concept that was drawn up by Eileen Mayers Pasztor, DSW. Her book called The Foster Parenting Toolbox has some helpful tips for the questions that many foster parents may have. I will put her website below where you can check out her materials.
    In her concept of what she calls a Jigsaw puzzle child it's the idea that we are all created with different parts. She breaks it down to about 9 different parts: Age in Years, IQ age, Emotional age, Ethnic match with parents, Academic age, Life experience age, Social age, Appearance age, and finally years of shared customs, values, and traditions.
     Hopefully most of us grew up with these different parts of us being all congruent and growing at the same pace. What I mean by that is this, lets say there's a 12 year old boy who lives with his birth parents. He has good genes and has grown up in a good environment.  There was no disruption in his life and so he's been on schedule with all of his different parts. His age is 12, his IQ age is on par for a 12 year old, his emotional age is right for a 12 year old as well as his academic age (meaning he's in the grade he should be in). Lets say for argument sake that he's Caucasian and so are his parent so there's no confusion about where he came from. His life experience is that of a 12 year old he has been able to maintain his childhood and nothing has taken away his innocence. His social life consists of boys and girls his age and over all he looks like a 12 year old boy. As  the years have gone by he is use to the customs, values, and traditions that go on in his household. They all eat the same food, celebrate the same holidays, and go to the same church. Over all he has a very good sense of identity and is a well adjusted child.
    Now lets take that same 12 year old boy but change a couple things about him. At birth he was exposed to heroin and because he wasn't born in a hospital but on the streets he became malnourished. Over the years his birth mother dragged him around from drug house to drug house where he was exposed to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. The only way that he could get food was if he stole it or made money through sexual favors. He never went to school
and didn't know how to read or write.

 Finally at age 12 his mother gets caught and thrown into prison where he's shoved into a foster home. In this home people eat at a table, talk to each other, play games after dinner, and over all had traditions that were completely foreign to him. Most adults he knew where abusive and wanted to hurt him so he had no trust in adults. Where do you think he is at on the different parts that make him up? Also lets say that he's still Caucasian but he' entering into a biracial home. The father is African American and the mother is Caucasian.

 With appearance age it can be hard to tell because he was malnourished and was drug exposed. Lets say he looks about 8 years old. His IQ level is that of a 5 year old even though he is really smart when it comes to surviving on the streets. There has been little to no emotional attachment in his life so his emotional age is that of an infant to 2 years old meaning there was no learning of healthy attachments. He goes from one extreme to another really clingy when he wants something or completely stand offish when he's defending himself. His academic age is non-existent because he never learned anything. Is he and ethnic match to the family? Lets say the family has birth children so there are biracial children that he would play with. There's part of a racial match but not all the way. His life experience is through the roof. He's probably experienced more then the whole family combined so let say that that part of him is age 18. Social age is hard because all he has known is adults he doesn't know how to interact with children his own age so while he may be able to hold a conversation with a 20 year old he really never went through a normal social development so lets say age 4. Now his age in years is 12 he thinks but because he wasn't born in a hospital and doesn't have a birth certificate he's not really sure if he's 12 or not. How many years of shared customs, values, and traditions does he have with his new foster family? None because he just got there.

  Here it is the child who is not 12 but is 12 the Jigsaw child. How do you parent that? What do you focus on first? In many ways even though he's almost a teenager he's just a baby who needs love and connection. Here's where I think that mercy and justice touch. Mercy is feeding and clothing him giving a safe environment to grow up in. Justice is returning him back to love meaning sticking out the tough times. Holding him when he's beating himself, talking to him helping him process his emotions, and no matter what fighting for him with the system, schools, and family. This boy has started off with a shattered life and now needs someone who is brave, courageous, and violently in love to not give up on him no matter how long it takes. Next time you think about the journey that you are taking through foster care consider adopting the Jigsaw child. If there was ever a way to lay down your life for someone it would be this way learning how to love someone who is not capable of loving you back.

Below is Eileen's website check it out it's really powerful stuff:

Thoughts and Journal Entries
October 2011 

      There really is so much to talk about this month I hope that I can put my thoughts into some sort of sensible order. The county social worker that I have is about to move to a different department which I'm completely bummed about but she's gotten all the paperwork in order and we have a court date to terminate parental rights in November. Which I am really relieved about seeing as I thought that I was going to loose Bella back to her mother but it's not looking that way. What's interesting about the foster system is that if a birth parent is incarcerated the case keeps rolling on without waiting for the birth parent to finish their time which I guess makes sense especially since the children grow more attached to their foster/adoptive parents as time goes on.
    Bella has 4 teeth now and lets talk about how teething is such a hard thing. Just so I can get some sleep I give her Tylenol. I swore I'd be the parent that went all natural all the time but it's just torture for us both so at least we can get some sleep.  She also started crawling this month which I was relieved about because the psychologist who evaluated her last month was hounding me about doing tummy time which I hate because she screams her brains out when she's on her tummy. It's really weird having a psychologist evaluate how you are doing as a parent. I have to say it's quite daunting. I know they have to do it to make sure Bella doesn't need any special services but it's still hard on me. I think she's developing fine and it's hard to convince yourself you're doing a good job when you have someone telling you she needs to be more skilled in these areas. It's ok though she passed, whatever that means.

   There was a scare that birth mom had been pregnant. I was considering taking the baby because I know that I want Bella to have a sibling around but social worker said that she's no longer pregnant however that happened. I don't know what I'm thinking in agreeing to take another baby but the thought of Bella's sibling somewhere out there in someone else's home. I could take the baby anyway we don't legally have enough room here but I know if God wants me to I'm just saying yes to whatever He has. He didn't ask the little boy to feed the multitude He just asked him to give Him what he had and that's where I'm at.

    I was able to sell a couple pieces of art this month and last so I'm glad my part time venture is making us some money as well as my part time jobs and whatever else I'm saying yes to. I just wait and the opportunities to do one day jobs come or people donate or I sell my art. I can't wait to publish this soaking manual I really think it could be an open door for finances for us. I'd love to do seminars and sell the book to small groups. I'm just being faithful to what God has given me and I know He will come through with the favor I need. Also after my soaking manual is done I'm going to try and figure out how to get my children's supernatural curriculum published. Being creative isn't my problem its getting the product out in to the market that's the hardest and longest part. Sometimes I get frustrated!

 To Halloween or not to Halloween that has been the question on my mind. When I was a child I never got to celebrate Halloween because of the demonic implications so obviously I missed out on a tradition that most children have. Now that I have a daughter of my own I understand the quandary I'm in. We got invited to hang out with friends and walk a famous LA neighborhood where the residence spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on displays. It was fun to get out of the house and walk around. I didn't really spend money for a costume for us I just put together things we already had. So even though I didn't get any candy and by the end she was getting grumpy because it was past her bedtime we had fun hanging with friends.

 The Lord had told me to cut back on somethings and conserve my energy for Bella and so I started cutting back some outings and adventures that while I was a pre-mother would have jumped to. Just that cutting back I've noticed as really isolated me in a lot of ways from  connections I would have made. I love meeting new people but I really don't have time or energy anymore it's truly sad but hopefully I'll get a social life again soon. I also haven't been to the movies in so long I decided to figure out how to take a baby into the movie theater (cheap 3$ theater of course) what a disaster. I was pacing back and forth in the back of the theater the whole time thinking I could have waiting for this movie to come out on DVD. The things you give up being a mommy. I do know that it won't last forever and I'm enjoying the all consuming nature of motherhood. The fact that we made it through another month is a miracle to me!

100 degrees in the valley at the fall!

Pre-Christmas gift!

Coach and cheer leader Halloween outfit

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