Working with foster youth is definitely a life changing and rewarding adventure.
This is a MUST read. My cousin is a foster parent with five children. She and her husband recently adopted four out of the five siblings! It has been a joy to watch her in this journey—just like it was a joy watching her grow up. I love how she "keeps it real" when it comes to living the life of fostering and adoption. She shared this on her personal page and I reached out to her to share it here because it is just that good and so very relevant.
Edited for privacy:
"Tonight, after 2.5 years of living here, my oldest son sat down at the table with this. He was about to chow down when I stopped him and asked what in the world he was doing.
He said, “I made myself dinner.”
“But it isn’t cooked. I can cook that you know.” (she said)
“Well, I wanted to eat something I used to eat a lot with my old family.”
So we sat down, and I asked him to tell me about it. He said that they wouldn’t feed him due to being passed out (you can guess why) and he would have to make dinner for himself and his brothers (two years old and four months old when they came to us). He said that all the money they had would be spent on cigarettes and other fun things (😬) and so he would find change in their van and would buy Ramen packets at the store down the street (at age six!!!!).
He said he didn’t know how to boil water, so he would eat it like this. And, he actually grew to like it. So, he would break it up for his sibling, and would try to make bottles for the baby (at age six!!!!!!).
Guys. I asked him to make me some. And, I sat there beside him and crunched it down with lots of water because it’s not great—and he just started talking about how the first time I made them Ramen, he wouldn’t eat it, and I told him I remembered. He said it’s because it reminded him of his Ramen packets and he didn’t trust me (big thoughts for nine!).
He said he isn’t sad he’s not with his “old family” (his words) anymore, but that sometimes HE LIKES TO REMEMBER HOW STRONG HE HAD TO BE.
I write this so everyone knows, trauma isn’t healed quickly (sometimes never), an adoption doesn’t erase the past or the memories, kids can change, they will change with love, and to never give up on a kid because “they are hard”.
And then, I walked away in shock, in sadness, and so, so, so proud of how strong my baby is. He’s so wonderful. And, we love him so much."
Friends, THIS is the life experience of kids who come from hard places. THIS is living a trauma-informed life. We can't imagine what kids from hard places have lived through. It is not just about one act of abuse or neglect, it is about living in survival mode and doing it day in and day out. It is about making sure younger siblings are also surviving, even at the expense of childhood.
Trauma infuses itself into every pore. Kids just don't forget it. Their brains and bodies won't let them. Those of us privileged enough (yes, I said privileged) to enter into the lives of children with hard life experiences must be willing to sit down, eat uncooked Ramen noodles and listen. We must not give up.
Our kids didn't.
*via Barren to Blessed