Not in my home!! I am not a firm believer in normal, or any sense of the word, but especially when it comes to our household.
We live with thievery, verbal abuse, and unfortunately a heightened level of fear. Yeah, you read that right…..and I am not just talking about the kid’s in the home either!!
As adoptive parents of traumatized children I have some pretty extreme fears about doing things that most family’s count as normal. For example, going to a school function with all the “normal” families, that have children dressed nice, hair looks good, and while they can be a little louder than usual, they are not being sexually inappropriate or seeking out free items from teachers or other parents due to their foster history or just flat out stealing from those in the classroom.
Another example that is in my face right now is camping. Most families can pull this off with little effort from all involved, right! Well here we are with one kid unable to function because he is excited, one kid unable to communicate or even think through making his cereal for breakfast because he is excited, and one kid taking this opportunity to steal items she has been eyeing because everyone is focused on something else at the moment!! Um yeah so this is our normal!
While in my heart of hearts, I long for a clean house with laughter and festive decorations. I find myself barried in a house of messiness that is never anyone’s fault, or doing, so they are unable to clean anything unless they are actively partaking in the mess alone. So while others are decorating their house for the holidays I am still fighting with every fiber of my existence to find my kitchen counters and walk on a floor that is not sticky!!
I guess this is our normal, and it is what we have signed up for as we look to each day!! I truly feel as though we are stuck in a horrid, “Ground Hog Day” film with these guys. Honestly, it is overwhelming to think that it will not improve any time soon! I know our ultimate goal is the long term. Where these children are adults and able to handle the stress of day to day life, but right now it is nothing short of overwhelming.
Now, I don’t want to scare anyone away from being foster or adoptive parents, but I do feel the need to be brutally honest. This way, if you do choose to walk this path with a kid that is struggling to find their footing and you are thinking it will be all picture perfect moments. This is a challenging life, but it is also a VERY blessed life! We have helped children experience life events that are taken for granted by many. For example, we have walked with kids through the first time things like birthday parties, participating in Halloween, and even getting to open a Christmas present. Working to keep the other kids from making comments of “the wrapping paper doesn’t matter just rip it off” when the child is cherishing every feeling, smell, and thought of the moment. Sure, every parent gets to experience this with their newborns, but we are talking with 8, 12, and even 15 year-olds. This is heartbreaking and rewarding all at one time.
The pictures that are covered are kid’s that are currently in the system, and are experiencing a true family Christmas for the first time….ever! They had received presents, but had not done activities such as reading the Christmas story, making cookies or gingerbread houses, and looking at Christmas lights. Would you look at those smiles!!! These, my friends, are the reasons we walk this crazy path! This is our normal. I guess I need to take more time to step back and look at where we are, and where we have been. This is what we live for each and every one of those smiles!!