You dream about the day you meet your little ones. You gather as many clothes and diapers and baby things as you can, you buy crib sheets and diaper bags, and you prepare as much as you can. You have in your mind that these kids will come to you in neat little,slightly damaged,packages and you will be the answer to all their problems. It isn’t like that. You know that there will be bumps in the road and you do all the classes and the training. The simulations of “what would you do in this situation, and study the stories of kids in care and you analyze what they need and what you would do for them. It isn’t like that. That is like a scripted sitcom where the stories reveal plot lines that are easily solved via loving parenting and creative solutions. It.isnt.like.that
It’s like this: you think you know what you want and God takes you on a roller coaster ride and brings you everything you ever wanted in a package that is in a million pieces and you know immediately that you can never EVER put it back together whole and like new. You also don’t know what to do for your family who has suddenly lost everything they have ever known and been given more than they dreamed…but it doesn’t look like it.
You hit the ground running and you start feeling like things are falling through the cracks because you can’t seem to organize your thoughts long enough to remember what you probably forgot.
You sit by the bedside of the one who needs you most and feel guilty that you aren’t with your little girl and haven’t spent much time at her bedside in the past year and now the new kid is taking the small amount of time she had with you to begin with. Then you see the tears coming down silently while the new one watches a slide show of her mom and brothers and sisters on repeat till she falls asleep. Because no matter how much you care for her and how much fun you had that day and how great she is doing, you are not her mom, and all she really wants is her family back together. But that family may never be put back together and you have signed on for the long hual no matter what. You mourn the loss with her while encouraging her that her Mama loves her and wishes she could be with her too. You stay strong until you can finally leave her then you fall apart while you clean up the things you could’nt clean during the extremely busy day you had.
It’s like this: you worry every day that you are short changing the kids who are watching you deal with an unruly child in ways that you never dealt with them. They wonder which way is right–so do you.
You struggle to find time with the two that have been with you since before they were born. Those who carry a part of you with them always, and wonder if that part is worth it to them in the end. Will they be bitter? Will they be resentful?
You knew it wouldn’t be like one big happy family right away, but you were pretty sure it would be like having friends stay the night or go on vacation–it isn’t. There is no instant, just add water or toys or books or fun, friendships. It is like two foreign countries merging suddenly after one of them has spent years in war. Trust must be built and friendships grow very slowly.
You realize very quickly that you are in way over your head. You sit by her bed and she tells you terrible heart wrenching things about her previous life and you see the effects it has had on her and it scares you to death. You don’t know if you can handle it. You don’t know if you can really give her what she needs, let alone care for the others at the same time. But you already told her she could stay and you already want her to.
So you sit by her bed every night listening and waiting for her to fall asleep while she tells you all she wants is to go home to the people who abused her and watched her be abused by others while they did nothing, instead of staying in your home full of real love. You do bed time routines and pack lunch boxes and deal with violent tantrums all while juggling your house and the family of your own-including her and her brother. You try to find room In your heart for the monsters who did this to a precious little girl that will likely be scarred for the rest of her life. Scars that they don’t have to see played out every day like you do. Knowing that a judge at any time could say they have to go back to that life.
Then they look at you and smile or say “I love you” back and somehow it is all worth it. These children who have no attachment to you (even the baby after a week of being his primary caretaker. ). The ice begins to melt and the light shines through the darkness and the first rays of hope warm your heart and home and you pray God’s protection and blessing over this new family he created and you know all you can do is trust that he will provide.
This is what it is like. Just in case you were wondering.