It's no secret things at home have been difficult with our foster daughter as of late. The honeymoon phase ended and we have been dealing with intense behavioral issues that are unlike a typical "threenager" and are of course, a direct result of the trauma she has been through. To say it has been exhausting is an understatement. I told my husband, this emotional exhaustion is unlike anything I've experienced and it requires so much of me there is really nothing left for the rest of my family. It has not been easy. The supposed "30-60 days" we were to have her ended long ago and I had grown angry that we still had her, upset that we were dealing with issues her parents should have been dealing with. Just flat out spent.
I reached a point where I was ready to throw in the towel and have her moved to another home. I know, I can't believe I am typing that but I was at a loss.
I could not forsee myself parenting her behavior any longer and I was worn in every sense of the word. I headed to church one evening amidst my turmoil and sat in the very back (which is completely unusal for me) while I silently cried the entire night. I couldn't sing because I couldn't say the words because I wasn't sure I believed them in that moment. I faked a smile and escaped as quick as I could when service ended. This is how I would manage many of the upcoming days and conversations I had.
I was counting down the hours until I headed back to work. The idea of not parenting her all day every day was the only thing that gave me hope.
Our hope for her, from the beginning, has been that she would be reunified with her family. That's the goal of foster care and the goal of our family. As the weeks went on and things became more difficult with her, I felt myself shutting down, closing myself off and going into survival mode. I lived for naps and bedtime. They were mile markers of hope along the weary road I was traveling.
We called in our prayer warriors, I texted to my most trusted confidents, the most raw things I've ever said. I spoke with her caseworker and shared how difficult things had been, I shared with her the behaviors we were dealing with and requested additional support for her and our family to be able to best serve her. And before I could stop myself, I started saying "our hope is to see her reunified with her family, but if that does not happen we would be willing to be considered an adoptive resource"
What in the world is wrong with me?? What have I done? Who am I? Somebody stop me!
I had this outer body experince, where I saw myself saying these words and I yelled at myself to STOP! What are you doing??
But I couldn't stop myself. I was just as shocked as anyone that I was saying such things especially after how hard things have been. I mean- I'm not exaggerating.
I hung up the phone and texted Trevor. "I did something" was all I could muster. HA! Later as I recounted things to Trevor , I began crying when I processed what had happened.
I suddenly saw that I had to take myself all the way to the end. I had to go all the way in my brain.
I *had* to think "What if one day she became my daughter?" How would I parent her in these tough situations? How would I handle her viceral words towards me, her second by second demands, defiance and tantrums. How would I mother her? How would I go about this situation if she were mine forever? And in that moment my perspective shifted. It shifted in how I saw her, and how I saw myself. I physcailly felt this barrier, which I didn't realze I had, disappear. I mean, I'm
the one who advocates for getting attached!
I will not pretend this solves everything and it won't mean every moment I will be able to have that perspective, because let's be real- that is just not realistic- but it means I can see outside of the situation better than I had before.
Will she be with us forever? No, most likely not. We want to see her return home, but I will love her like she is staying because in that space is where I can best parent her.
There is much discussion about the brokeness of these children, but I have come face to face with my own brokeness time and time again.
In times like these, the lights shines brightly on my selfishness and my desire to control and I must die to myself over and over again. The chipping away is painful, but I believe there is something incredible being revealed.
As we come to grips with our own selfishness and stupidity, we make friends with the impostor and accept that we are impoverished and broken and realize that, if we were not, we would be God. The art of gentleness toward ourselves leads to being gentle with others -- and is a natural prerequisite for our presence to God in prayer.
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:19 NLT