Step 7 - The Warnings
You’ve probably noticed I haven’t written about my journey in a while. This isn’t because nothing is happening. It is. Quicker than ever! However, over the past few months I’ve learned that when I talk about it with others, I don’t always get the reactions I hope for.
A couple of months ago was a trying time on the journey. It’s interesting how much easier it is to write when things are fun than it is when things are challenging.
One of the things I’d love to see in my life time is the end of children aging out of foster care, so I am never hesitant to share my journey. However, there can be a strong negative public perception about children in foster care. Many Americans believe that the children are somehow in foster care because of something they themselves have done or that the children in foster care are so damaged that there is nothing you can do to help them.
Obviously, I feel very strongly that there are so many things we can do and the most important thing is to show them unconditional love. Children are in foster care because of something their parents did, not because of something they did. Children in foster care are members of our society and when they age out they become even more so. I believe each person can make a difference and I’d like to be one of those people.
However, people often like to tell me horror stories of adoptions and tell me that I shouldn’t make the decisions I am making.
In the “dreaded feedback week” as I’ll call it, I had three instances of this. The first came from a close family member. They recently learned of my decision to adopt and they told me stories of people they know who adopted children and had a bad experience. They told me they don’t want to see me get hurt. The fact is, your children always have the possibility to do something that hurts your heart. That’s what opening your heart to unconditional love does, it opens you up completely to another person. That is the scary part. That is the beautiful part.
A few days later I was hanging out with a new friend and as we walked to my car he was inquiring about the adoption process from foster care and how it works, the timeline, the steps, etc. I could tell he was trying to maintain a balance of positivity, but for every positive story of adoption he told, he followed it with a negative one. Working in the field he had seen many different cases. He made sure I knew he didn’t think this was a good decision.
The worst lecture came while I was at an auto repair store buying a part for my car. A woman came up and stood next to me as we watch the hold down bolt get screwed in. She said she always liked to learn new things about cars and how to take care of them. She mentioned that she is in the process of adopting a twelve-year-old boy and I was instantly excited! I had never met someone in person whose goal was also to adopt an older child. I really couldn’t contain my excitement! Her situation was a bit different than mine as she knew her child. A friend of hers had been fostering him for years and she had made the choice to make him a forever part of her family. I was so excited for her and eagerly shared my desires to adopt an older child. She asked if I knew the child I’d like to adopt. I told her I hadn’t met any children yet. She proceeded to lecture me for over twenty minutes in the middle of the auto store about how bad of an idea this was. She told me all of the mental disorders she’s ever heard of and the bad habits “these children” have. She told me that I need to be careful because I don’t want anything negative happening in my home. At one point, she told me that it was God’s will that she ran in to me so she could give me all of these warnings and tell me what a bad choice this is.
Each time someone tells me the reasons they don’t think I should adopt, it hurts. Plain and simple. It hurts my heart that there are so many children out there that need help and that there are so many people out there who are so unwilling to help them. It hurst me that people like me are discouraged from doing something so beautiful and so necessary. Mostly, it reminds me how strong I am. It reminds me that I must do this because the cause is so important and the need is so great. It reminds me that I will be an example of the right thing to do and most of all, it reminds me that this is the right thing to do for me, for my children and for the world.
I waited months to write this post because it took me that long to stop hurting enough to write with positivity and grace (or at least that is what I am trying to do.)
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that I need to start surrounding myself with the people who support me on this journey. I reached out to a handful of my best friends for support and they reminded me that if I am trying to make a difference in the world I can invite the people around me to join me or to get out of my way and watch it happen :) They reminded me how wonderful they think I am and how good of a mother they think I will be. Most of all, they reminded me that you should only pay attention to the opinion of those who love you.
I hope that next time someone tells you something good they want to do for the world, that you can find it in your heart to support them, or at the very least to not try to discourage them. The world could use more selfless, positive and inspiring people. I hope you feel like you are among them!