Our first placement is over. We opened our home and our hearts to two precious little boys for twelve weeks. When we communicated to DSS that we were in over our heads, they moved the boys. Though the decisions were out of our hands, I feel failure, discouragement, and frustration. Weeding through the "whys," I can at least see a few lessons:
- Love is not enough. Seriously. LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH! You may love a 10-year-old boy who has been in a Romanian orphanage since birth. Love is not going to be enough for you to care for him well. In his book, Adopted for Life, Russell Moore describes walking into a silent room full of cribs. The room was not silent because the cribs were empty, but rather because the babies had learned that crying would not help. Nobody was eager to lovingly meet their needs. That neglect has changed your 10-year-old's brain in a way love alone cannot fix.
- Training is required. The boys came to us as a kinship placement, so the training requirement was temporarily waived for us. Kinship placements allow children to be cared for by people they know, typically extended family members or friends. In this situation, we were connected to the family by a friend of a friend. We were moving toward foster care, but our only step so far was attending an information session. Since the next training sessions do not begin until the fall, we still have not been trained. We can now confidently say that traumatized children should NEVER be placed with first-time parents without proper training. Trust me, we did our best. However, I always wondered if our parenting methods were hurting more than helping.
- Community support is helpful. After the boys arrived, our church and community showered us with meals, toys, and support. Suddenly having very active children was a huge change. Not having to think about cooking kept me sane in the early weeks.
- Professional support is vital. Since the boys left, we have learned so much about how many experts and professionals should have been involved in the situation. We told our social worker EVERYTHING and trusted that she would point us to the right people at the right time. Now we know that we should have been much more aggressive about getting professionals involved. I got to attend a long-awaited appointment with the boys and their new foster mom last week. If we had attended an appointment like that one early on, the whole placement would have been different. The professional had simple solutions to major issues. Her advice sliced through the fog that is Google to the best care for these specific boys. I could lose myself in the "If onlys." Instead, I am hoping that this next placement for the boys will be successful because of the resources now coming their way.
- God's approval has to be enough. I am a pleaser. I cannot please everyone in this situation. I experienced things with the boys that nobody else saw. They were different when only with me. Not one person can completely understand what happened in those twelve weeks. I want them to understand so they can tell me I did the right thing. I want them to approve. I want them to tell me I am not a failure. Yet, unanimous support and encouragement is not going to happen. One blog commenter told me she's glad I can't have biological kids since I just dumped off the ones given me. A connected foster mom clearly believes we didn't do enough. And I have to live with that. I can guarantee that my motives were wrong sometimes. I know that my patience ran out often. I admit that my tone was not always gentle. But I promise that I loved those boys wholeheartedly, that I did my best, that I gave it my all. At the end of the day, God's opinion of me has to be the most important. His Son died for me, the impatient, frustrated, temporary foster mom. Through Christ, my wrong motives, harsh words, and impatience are forgiven (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Fighting my feelings of failure, I am reminding myself that God's approval is enough.