Parenting is hard work! It’s even harder when the child hasn’t always been yours. My biological children have always been with me. If they are afraid of dogs, I know why. If they don’t feel well, I recognize the signs. When they are having a bad day, I know what to expect. I don’t wonder what all they have endured in their little lives. I never think that a certain thing they say or do is a direct result of being starved and neglected.
My heart hurts. I want to do what is right for him and what is right for my family. There are always doubts, what if the parent judges are right? I’m not sleeping much these days and my anxiety is at an all time high. Some days I think things are getting better and other days, I’m not so sure.
Yesterday I made Evan sit in time out after breaking several toys that don’t belong to him. He did his usual and threw a tantrum because he didn’t want to go to time out. Then he yelled at me “I don’t like you!” I’ve been at this mom game for over 13 years and words like these still sting! I told him it’s okay if he doesn’t like me, he was still having a time out. A few minutes later he told me he loves me.
He had therapy yesterday and all of the people that work at the agency were telling my husband and I how much he has changed since being in care. They say he has really progressed. This gives me hope that things will soon start to get better.
When you have a child like Evan with bad behavior, you become exposed to a whole new level of parental advice and even parent shaming. So far, I’ve encountered two types of people through this journey.
Person one hasn’t spent much, if any time with Evan. This person talks about how cute he is and how his behavior isn’t his fault. They often tell me how they would take him home if they could. Even if they don’t say it, sometimes I get the feeling that they think I am exaggerating about his behavior. Or, perhaps they think they could do a better job than I am at caring for him. While I agree that his behavior is a direct result of his environment the first three years of his life, reading a story and living it are two different things.
Person two often times started out as person one. This person has spent a little more time with Evan. Person two still hasn’t seen the whole picture but has a better idea of how everyday life is. This person tells me I’m crazy for dealing with this. They question why I do foster care. They say I should “get rid of him” like he’s an old shirt I no longer wear. Once again, I get the sense that they judge me as a parent for having him in our family. They make comments about what he is doing to our biological children.
I have one person that doesn’t fit either category. She is a foster parent herself and has had some children with some of the same behaviors. We listen to each other without judgement, and sometimes that’s all we need. She encourages me. We are able to talk about the changes we witnessed with different children.
As for person one and person two, I’m sure there is someone out there that could do a better job. When it comes to my biological children, I also worry about how they will be affected in the long run. I hope they learn compassion and love but only time will tell.
For now, this is our family and this is our life. We are stressed and sometimes frustrated. All things aside, I look at this little boy sleeping at night and I know his belly is full and he is safe. That’s enough for me to get up tomorrow and try again.
It has been three weeks and three days since we welcomed an energetic, blue eyed little boy into our home. For the privacy of the child, I will be calling him Evan.
In the beginning, Evan’s personality was very magnetic. He has a laugh that is bigger than life! At four years old, he is the same age as our youngest son. I was thrilled for them both to have a playmate. In the foster care system, they refer to the first days as “the honeymoon period.” Sometimes the honeymoon lasts days, sometimes it lasts months. Eventually, it always comes to an end.
Our honeymoon has officially come to an end. It only lasted about a week. Slowly different behaviors started to come out of hiding. In the past two and a half weeks, we have experienced biting, hitting, kicking, spitting, lying, using the bathroom on the floor (both number one and number two), and being very confrontational to others.
Some days I think it’s getting better while other days I think it’s getting worse. Today, I’m not sure. I know three and a half weeks is not a very long time but it’s longer that two out of the three past foster homes kept him. We are his fourth home in four months.
What has happened to Evan is not his fault. He is the product of how he was raised for the past four years. I am going to do everything I can to help this child. If this placement fails, it will not be for my lack of trying. For now we will take it day by day and hope that one day I will read this and realize that we have come a long way.