Monday, November 5, 2007

Martian Child

I just returned from seeing the movie "Martian Child." I also spoke to a friend who stated the referrals for my foster care application have gone out. The timing was good for both but raised some thoughts.

The first is that I definitelly do not have a martian child but I do have a child who will have to deal with some of the issues in the movie. If you choose to see the movie, leave younger children at home. If they aren't ready to deal with serious topics about abandonment and trust, they are not ready for this movie. Even as an adult adoptive mother, there were moments that were difficult to think about.

If you haven't heard about the movie, it is about a single man, David, who chooses to adopt an older child, Dennis, who believes he is from Mars. Near the beginning of the movie, David's sister tells David that being a parent is hard. She brings up the argument that it takes two people to raise a child. David points out that it doesn't always take two people and often even two parents cannot do the job. One parent who loves the child and is commited is better than two parents who give the minimum, do not show love and do not really want to be parents. There are many parents out there doing their best as single parents and raising wonderful children. I know several of them myself. Some are single through divorce or unplanned pregnancies. Others chose to be single parents. They all have two things in common. They love their children fiercly and they are doing the best they can.

Dennis needs to learn to trust. He was abandoned by his birth family and has learned that parents can disappear at anytime. It is so sad that children sometimes learn this and have to live with the consequences of their abandonment. It must be so difficult to not know if you can trust the adults in your life that you love. I can only imagine the pain and confusion that older children must experience as they go through the process of hoping for new parents while wondering if their new parents will disappear like the old ones. Adoptive parents often will talk about the pain of waiting for their new child's referral but the pain they go through is nothing compared to the pain and confusion these children must experience.

You will have to see the movie to find out if Dennis learns to trust, if David is able to adopt Dennis and how they work through the many emotions and tough questions that surround adoptive families. As a mother I was touched by the movie. As an adoptive mother, I was moved to tears.

I have begun the process for a foster care license and received feedback about the referral form they send out. This process is opening my eyes to the complexities in our foster care system. I was told that some licensing workers do not like approving families if their homes smell like smoke (whether the parents smoke around the children or not) or if they can smell litter boxes or animals. The questions they send out not only ask the standard questions about if the person is good with children but also about the person's personality. It makes me wonder if they will believe assertiveness is a good quality or bad. I can be assertive when I believe someone is not treating my child or me fairly. I can be assertive when I believe someone is being wronged or a problem needs to be solved. I can also be quiet when I don't have the answer, am in an unfamiliar situation or believe that I will only make the sitation worse by speaking up. So is assertiveness good or bad? It doesn't fit the stereotypical mother who quietly goes about the housework leaving the discipline to the father. At the same time, it is probably a needed personality characteristic for a single mom who has to quietly do the housework but also meet with teachers and principles, make sure her children are getting the proper medical care and discipline the children.

Single moms (and married moms) wear many hats and need to have many qualities. Assertiveness is one (in my opinion as long as it is at the right time) but so is love, patience and consistency. The secret is knowing when to wear which hat and sometimes wearing more than one at a time. No one said being a mom was easy and I am certainly not perfect. I do my best though and that is the most important thing. There is no such thing as a perfect parent but I try to do my best to raise my son to be happy and loving.

I may or may not succeed in becoming a foster parent or having more children. All I can do is try. I can tell you that I have a wonderful son who shows me his love everyday. The night he looked at me and quietly stated "You are my mom" and when he smiles, asks for a "huggy" and tells me "I wuv" are some of my most rewarding moments as a mom. I would love to have another child but I know that I am already blessed. I have one child to love and am selfish to ask for more.

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