Thursday, October 1, 2015

Survival and Adoption

This picture cracks me up!  If you're trying to "survive" right now, feel free to steal this idea!
Don't worry, nobody was harmed in this activity.

One of the most read posts on this blog continues to be the one entitled How to survive a foster care adoption.  People literally search Google for "how to survive a foster care adoption".  Which says a lot to me.  Because when you are in the thickest of the thick, when your home is in utter chaos, when a little tiny person is making you feel anger you didn't think you were capable of, when you don't know if you can keep going, when yet another thing in your house is broken, when you're crying on the kitchen floor, when you just don't know what else to just don't know what else to do.  You don't know where to find help or answers.  But you know something's got to change.

So where to turn?

My previous "survival" post dealt largely with the practicalities of foster care adoption, but I wanted to address more of the parenting side.

So here's my advice on where to turn if you related to the statements above:

Find a support group.  Or if you can't find one in your area, start one.  If you're local, Reach has a couple.  Call them and ask about their support groups for adoptive families.  Some churches have adoptive parent support groups.  Ask your adoption agency if they know of any in your area.  (That's how I found mine). 

Another great way to meet other adoptive and foster families is through trainings.  I attended a training a year ago through Reach and met a group of people who were so relatable and so genuine and had such similar stories to mine.  When our training was over, we decided to keep getting together once a month to support and encourage each other.  It's become a really amazing group of friends for me. 

Sitting down with a group of people who get what you're going through and who aren't shocked and appalled by the things you tell them are happening in your home, but rather simply nod in understanding, is an amazing gift to foster and adoptive parents.  Plus it is so helpful to brainstorm solutions with people who have similar experiences.  I walk away from almost every support group meeting having learned something very valuable from another parent.

Get professional help.  I've been in that place where you are questioning whether or not you need to seek professional help and you just don't know for sure and you don't want your kids to be labeled and you don't want to put them through just another appointment and assessment because Lord knows they've had enough of those, but things just aren't working and you don't know what else to try.  I think if you're questioning whether or not to seek professional help, you should probably go ahead and do it.  Some families need therapy for their children, some need it for themselves, some need family therapy, some need it for the other children in their homes. 

By the time we finally got therapy, I remember telling the therapist what was going on in our family and as I heard the words coming out of my mouth, my thought was, "Of course we need therapy!!!  Why did I think maybe we didn't?!"  I wish I had gone there sooner! 

Check out Empowering Parents.  This website is not for adoptive parents per se, but it has been possibly the most helpful information I've found for the extreme behaviors we have dealt with in our family.  I sat in a wonderful adoptive parent training a while back and the videos were talking about different levels of behavior and escalation with our kids.  It was helpful stuff about how to engage and respond to your child at each level.  But then it got to the top level where a child is physically out of control, hurting, breaking things, using abusive language and it said something along the lines of, "At this level you would need to seek professional help."  I later talked with the other parents who were at this training and we ALL said we were sitting there thinking, "But that's where our children are."  We all had kids who were at that top level and even one of the best adoptive parent trainings I've attended did not cover how to deal with our children's behaviors.  They had nothing to offer us other than "seek other help." 

Empowering Parents has been that help for our family.  There are articles and programs that deal with these extreme kinds of behavior that I think are becoming more and more common among kids leaving the foster care system.  This website talks about child behaviors that nobody else really seems to talk about.  I highly, highly recommend spending some time perusing that website and maybe buying one of their programs.  We are going through their Total Transformation program and it's so good and so helpful.

Okay.  That's what I wanted to say today.  The longer I've been on this journey, the more I've realized that kids are coming out of the foster care system having been through more crap and different crap than I think we've seen before.  And they're coming into their adoptive homes with behaviors that are not their fault, but that are extreme, and that families simply don't know how to deal with.  After all, how could we?  So find some support.  Surround yourself with some people who get it and who will encourage you.  Get some professionals involved in whatever capacity you need.  And please go check out Empowering Parents. 

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  Galatians 6.9

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