By Kate Crain, Foster Adoptive Parent with Nightlight Christian Adoptions
We thought raising four boys aged 15-23 gave us a good handle on parenting. With more time on our hands, now seemed like a great time to fulfill our dream of adopting. The Adoption Exchange website brought to life the children who are so often hidden within our society. Our boys vetoed the idea of another brother, so we began our girl search. And that idea of knowing how to parent? My best friend, a therapist in Texas who adopted her three children, convinced me otherwise! “You are awesome parents… but learn as much as you can and call me anytime!”
An 11-year-old girl seemed to speak to us through her video. She was asked what she wants in a fam-ily. “A mom and a dad,” she replied quietly. Nightlight expedited our home study and we became a certified fos-ter home within 6 weeks after training. Our dream was becoming a reality, but we certainly did have so much to learn!
Reading books on traumatized children became our past-time. We interviewed psychiatrists and thera-pists who specialize in the needs of foster children, and evenings were filled with Karyn Purvis videos. Multiple placements during the past five years meant she had endured much change, multiple parenting styles and in-consistencies in life. We quickly learned that more important than knowing all the answers is surrounding your-self with people who can help you find them. Our new therapist Debbie met with us twice in preparation to meet our daughter for the first time, and advice from Nightlight, caseworkers and my best friend proved invaluable.
Our first meeting was heaven! Five weeks later she was placed in our home, and we thought, “This is smooth sailing, we are really good at this!” She was affectionate and loving, though she more readily bonded with me. Even though we saw no oppositional or emotionally challenging behavior, we all saw Debbie weekly for support. The “Honeymoon Phase” is what they call it, and we got a month. How thankful we were for that basis of trust that was built between she, our therapist and us over those first four weeks. And even though our life has become much more difficult in many respects, the love that is blossoming is truly a gift from God.
A friend who is also the father of boys and in the process of adopting a girl told me that others say they don’t “get it.” Why would someone with a seemingly perfect family delve into adopting an older child? And he tells them, “You don’t have to get it, because I do.” If more people “got it” there wouldn’t be any children without families.
She has now been with us three months, and it will take much longer than that to soothe the hurts she has endured. But it is something we will do together. With love, laughter, tears and prayer. I’ve learned not to be so quick to judge, as now we have the child who at a tall age 11 occasionally behaves much younger in public. I bear defiance and anger that I know is subconsciously directed at events long ago. But more importantly, I close my eyes and envision a beautiful, confident young woman, the woman I know God has destined her to be. One who will achieve her dreams with that “mom and dad,” and a bonus four brothers beside her… loving, sup-porting and believing in her. Forever.
To learn more about Nightlight’s Fostering Love for Adoption Program visit Nightlight.org or read our latest Newsletter.