Sunday, August 30, 2009

What I Have Learned As A Foster And Adoptive Parent

I cannot believe I have been a parent for almost two and a half years now. It seems like just yesterday I was in Ethiopia scared to death and excited to meet my new son. Jacob was 17 months old and still had the little wobble that young toddlers have when walking and trying to learn how to run. I was worried he would fall down the stairs as he learned how to climb them. I still remember calling the hospital in a panic when he woke up at midnight with his first bloody nose. It only lasted a few minutes but it seemed like forever for me. Or the time I called poison control because Jacob found a long lost bottle of Tums. That's when I learned that a child needs to eat a very large amount before it is a concern. I don't remember the exact number but it was something like 25.

Now Jacob is handing out invitations to a party to celebrate his fourth birthday next month. M has been with us for a year and will hopefully be here for many more. I have learned a lot over the past two years and have a lot more to learn. Here are some of the things I have learned.

- Children hit there heads a lot. And live.
- If you think you're child won't say or do something. He will prove you wrong. Every time.
- There is no one in the world who can make me laugh like my children. Sometimes they make me laugh on purpose and other times on accident. The end result is a reminder about how much fun it is to be a mom.
- Children make you rethink every decision you have ever made and will ever make. They just put things in a whole new light.
- It takes about 1 month for a child to begin to feel comfortable in the home and begin to work through the grieving process to take place. It takes about a year for a child to actually be completely attached and feel like they have always been there (or at least in my home).
- The first 6 weeks with a new child are difficult. The first six days are the hardest.
- Children come up with some amazing stories and ideas. It is fun to just listen to them and even more fun to try to join them in their imaginary worlds.
- Three year olds know everything. Just ask them.
- All children can show great improvement in a short period of time in a stable and loving home. They may have permanent and long-term needs but they are also capable of great change.
- Neglect and abuse have long lasting effects but those effects can be minimized with a loving and stable home.
- Children are not responsible for the behaviors due to their past abuse and neglect. Parents must be patient and help them heal so that they can work on the poor behaviors.
- All kids deserve loving and forever homes. All kids have the right to be safe and feel safe. It's not always easy to make a new child feel safe but it is a great feeling when a child shows that they finally feel secure.
- Seeing a child with food issues throw food during a tantrum is one of the best feelings in the world. It means progress is being made.
- Looking at pictures and seeing how a child's smile gets bigger and his eyes brighter the longer he is with you is an amazing gift.
- Every day holds new challenges and even greater rewards. It is important to recognize the child's progress on the good days as well as the bad days.
- I love my children more than I ever knew was possible. Whether a child is with me for a few days or years does not change my love for that child. God sends me children to love and I will be forever thankful.
- Children grow up way too fast. So treasure every moment you have with them.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Heather, I love this post! You are a wonderful mom!!