Family. Love. Comfort. Connection. HOME. Each of these words fill our hearts with warm fuzzies, but what about those who don’t have any positive lasting experiences with any of those same words? What would that feel like? It’s hard to even imagine a world where that would be the case…but for many kids, it IS the case. Foster care provides a safe place for these children to put their head down at night, and yet, all parties involved know that it is only a temporary arrangement. The child is scared and always on alert because what is here today, could literally be gone tomorrow. For one second, think about all that you have; all of the blessings big and small that surround you, are a part of who you are and balance your sense of belonging.
For my son, who was a toddler upon entering the foster care system, it was devastating to not have these anchors in his life. He was diagnosed with autism when he was very young; a condition that already separated him from the world that surrounded him. He wasn’t able to communicate with those around him. He wasn’t able to understand what was going on inside of his own little head. Foster care houses a child, but especially in the case of my son, it didn’t try to “reach” him, understand him, embrace him–love him. He developed many behaviors that deterred families from adopting him, even though THAT is exactly what he needed. Year after year went by and this little guy slipped further and further away from connecting to people and if they did try to reach out to him, his behaviors escalated, because he found that those same behaviors that were screaming for attention and acceptance also allowed him to escape from the situation at hand mostly unscathed. He had figured out at a very early age that if you didn’t attach to anyone, you couldn’t be hurt by anyone. What a horrible life lesson to learn before you enter kindergarten. Okay, yes, he was traumatized, but aren’t we all in some way? It was a matter of someone being tougher than he was, more loving than he thought he needed, wiser than those who couldn’t see his potential and in some ways, absolutely crazy. Yep. CRAZY—in the most positive, proactive, supportive and loving way.
I say that jokingly, but in some ways it’s true. In order to adopt, you have to be willing to give up all of your preconceived ideas of what a child “should” be like, what your family “should” be like, and just sort of float. Let go of the strings. Go with the flow. A “take each day as it comes and thank God for every single little blessing no matter how small it is at the end of the day” kind of crazy. I’ve learned that it’s the best kind of “crazy” to be. I was not afraid of adoption and all that it entailed because I had adopted my beautiful daughter many years earlier. We had been going along as a happy family of two and we talked about how awesome it would be for her to have a sister to hang out with. I decided to take the classes required for adoption (again) and begin the process of expanding our family. Our “ideal adoptee” would be a young teen girl between the ages of 12-16 years old. Well, God has a sense of humor and often has a different plan than the one we’ve mapped out.
Today, I thank God for His intervention every day. For my family is exactly what it was always meant to be. I have two amazing children who have defied odds; they have not only been able to find a forever home and leave the “system,” but more importantly all three of us get warm fuzzies because we now LIVE each day with what everyone should: Family. Love. Comfort. Connection. HOME.
Dee Marks is an adoptive mother living in Columbus, Ohio. She is an advocate for foster care adoption and autism awareness.