#Write31Days: Day 14 Bonding

Oh, bonding.

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As a mother who has gone through both pregnancy and foster care, I can say without a doubt that bonding is one thing that was incredibly different.

When I found out I was pregnant with Tera, it was there. The bond. There was a person growing inside me. Some people bond amazingly with their child throughout pregnancy, and I didn’t feel like I was one of those people. But I still had a ten month advantage on bonding with Tera compared to the two week’s notice I have of Little Miss’ life.

As soon as Tera arrived, we were parents. We were it. There was no one else to make decisions for us and there was no one else to take care of her if we just decided we didn’t want to. In fact, there was no such thought in our minds.

When Little Miss came into our home, it took some time. When I first brought her home from the hospital, I took hardly any pictures of her…because I didn’t feel like she was mine to take pictures of. I didn’t breastfeed her and therefore it was a lot easier to pass her off to someone else for a bottle. Little Miss was a difficult baby and I always jumped at the chance to take a short break from holding her rigid, screaming body.

Don’t get me wrong…we treated her just as we treated Tera. We fed her, cuddled her, held her close, sang to her, bathed her, loved her. But it took longer to bond with her.

If you are going into fostering, I highly recommend researching attachment parenting. If I could go back, this is one thing I would do differently with Little Miss. I wouldn’t let anyone else feed her bottles, and I would be very careful to only hand her over to a limited amount of people who want to hold her. I would have done far more skin to skin (she didn’t automatically get it from breastfeeding, remember). I would have done more research and let that girl cling to me like she needed.

I don’t think Little Miss will have any detrimental effects from all these things I would’ve done differently. I just think that I learned a lot from the time that she was with us. Here are some of my top tips for bonding with your foster children  (my experience is with an infant, but I’m sure some of these would apply to older children as well):

  • Pray for and over them. There is nothing more bonding than bringing them before the throne of God frequently.
  • Skin to skin. If you have an infant, take a bath with them. Take off your shirt and let them nap on your chest. If you have an older child, you have to be careful…but physical contact is still incredibly important. Hugs. Back rubs. Even just a pat on the shoulder can go really, really far.
  • Consistency with limited contact. You now have a child in your home who does not know you at all. When you take them to your church, you might trust almost everyone that you come into contact with. You trust them enough to watch your kid, supervise your kid, hold your kid and feed them a bottle. But your foster child does not know this. This know that they were taken from their safe place (no matter what reason they were taken away, it’s what they know and to them…it’s safe.), and they haven’t determined yet where a safe place is. Your job as foster parents is to show them that you are their safe place. This might take a few days, a few weeks or even months. Be wary of who you are handing your child over to, because it could cause you to go back days or weeks in the bonding department. I seriously recommend a period of time at the beginning where NO ONE else is allowed to hold your baby, and NO ONE else is allowed to be in charge of them. Yes, this even means saying no to respite while you are working through bonding.
  • Research adoptive attachment parenting. No, you might not be adopting the child. But each principle should come into effect in the same ways.

Of course, bonding is a hot topic in foster care. That’s what makes it so painful to say goodbye to them, isn’t it? That’s what we are all afraid of, because in the end…that is what hurts. Yes, it’s true. After bonding with a Little Miss for nine months I can without a doubt say that losing her hurts. However, it’s so, so good. It’s what the child needs more than anything else in their lives at that point. It’s how they will learn to heal and cope and it’s vital to their development. So, please…bond. You won’t regret it. I promise.

 

Questions?

If you have any questions at all about foster care or adoption from foster care as I go through this series, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can leave a comment or send an email. At the end of the series, I will have a Q&A day and will be answering any questions I receive throughout the month.

Previous posts:

Day 1: Introduction

Day 2: Meet the Hines

Day 3: Shop Feature: Karla Storey

Day 4: Why We Chose to Foster

Day 5: The Process

Day 6: The Cast of Characters

Day 7: The Paperwork

Day 8: The Goal is Reunification

Day 9: Reflections

Day 10: Shop Feature: Ransomed Cuffs

Day 11: The Placement

Day 12: The Daily Life

Day 13: The Extra’s

Please share and interact!

As a blogger, it means SO much to me if you like, comment and share on these posts! You can share the whole series or just a particular blog post, but your support in that way means the world to me!

#Write31Days

You can find the official #Write31Days and all the other bloggers who are linking up by clicking here.

#Write31Days Day 4: Why and How we Foster

When we made the decision to become foster parents, we were completely blind.

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We knew we wanted to grow our family through adoption. Due to the requirements of international adoption, we felt like the door was closed to us. Due to the cost of domestic adoption, we also felt like that door was closed to us. As I was doing research on adoption, I stumbled across brief mentions of foster care.

Foster Care.

Foster Care.

It was there, in the back of everything I was researching. It was there, just niggling. And then it came to the forefront of our minds.

Foster Care?

The more research we did, the more we felt led to it.

Foster Care!

We initially went into foster care convinced it was about caring for America’s orphans. The abandoned, neglected, least of these. The kids in our own backyard who are being abused and going hungry.

And we learned that foster care is so much more than that. Foster care is coming alongside an American system that is broken. It’s coming alongside judges and caseworkers and doing our best to work with them, even when circumstances aren’t always pretty. And it’s coming alongside birth parents and trying to help them work towards a place in their life where they can take care of their children.

Yes, foster care is about helping the entire family. Surprisingly, it’s not about adoption, (although adoption does happen frequently).

So, why do we foster?

First, we foster because we are commanded to take care of the orphans.

  • To give children a safe home
  • To work within the system alongside caseworkers, supervisors and judges
  • To provide a safe home for children while their biological parents get back on their feet
  • To provide a bridge between our middle class lifestyle and the needs of those who live in deeper poverty

It is also important to note that as we foster, we have some “rules” and “regulations”

  • The goal is reunification with the parents. We need to be taking in these children and then cheering on their parents (sometimes so hard).
  • Our passion is for the families. As we have gone through fostering a child, we have realized that the system is so messed up. Removing a child from a family often does not solve anything. Instead, we need a system that comes alongside the whole family and helps them function as a unit. This system is not in place, but we will do our part to play a supportive role in helping birth parents get on their feet and have the ability to take their child back.
  • We have agreed as a family to be very careful about how many children we take in. I’m not talking about the background of the child or the history of behavior or anything like that. I’m saying that we want to take in children and make them feel at home, like they belong in our family. We do not want to take in every single foster child in Greene county, because we feel that would not be as effective.
  • We have agreed as a family to take a full month off from accepting a new placement after we say goodbye to a placement. Grief is tough, man. And we need to be able to process it in order to be more effective to future placements
  • We CANNOT do this alone. We need the body of Christ surrounding us every step of the way. We need prayers. We need physical items (frequently). We need listening ears and people who are willing to help us go through the grief…over and over again.

Questions?

If you have any questions at all about foster care or adoption from foster care as I go through this series, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can leave a comment or send an email. At the end of the series, I will have a Q&A day and will be answering any questions I receive throughout the month.

Previous posts:

Day 1: Introduction

Day 2: Meet the Hines

Day 3: Shop Feature: Karla Storey

Please share and interact!

As a blogger, it means SO much to me if you like, comment and share on these posts! You can share the whole series or just a particular blog post, but your support in that way means the world to me!

#Write31Days

You can find the official #Write31Days and all the other bloggers who are linking up by clicking here.

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Foster Care Fears

I’ve had this post tumbling around in my brain for a long time, and it’s been hard for me to put into writing or to get the courage to hit publish, but I wanted to share some of the fears that I have in regards to foster care.

There are so many obvious reasons to NOT do foster care. Some of the ones that keep me up at night are (in no particular order):

  • I’m not tough-skinned. I’ve heard that you have to be tough to be a foster parent. You have to not let the pain and the heartache break you. You have to say goodbye so many times, and in a lot of the circumstances, you would rather not say goodbye to the child as they are going somewhere that is not good for them. I’ve heard you have to be tough and stand up against the bad behaviors and the difficult children. Well, I’m not tough. In fact, I’m pretty much the opposite. I don’t fit the mold of being a foster parent. I just don’t. Will I fail? I suppose it’s possible. But I can tell you one thing…God will not leave me. Maybe he has called us to foster care so that foster kid can meet a compassionate, un-tough person. Maybe God will slowly teach me how to be tough and stand up for children who need an advocate.
  • Tera getting hurt. This one is really hard for me. Most people say that they don’t want to become foster parents until their biological children are out of the home, or at least a little more grown. Part of this is so that they can gain experience with biological children first, but I know that a huge part of it is because they fear for the safety of their own child. And that makes me sad. I get it. I cannot imagine the devastation Theo and I would feel if something (neglect, abuse) were to happen to Tera. We would feel like failures as parents. We would probably always wonder if choosing to be foster parents was the right thing. But it breaks my heart that we as Christians think we can protect our children from any hurt of the world. It breaks my heart that we as Christians want to make our lives perfect and comfortable before we start sacrificing our lives to the uncomfortable or the dangerous. No, we should not put our children into danger. But we also shouldn’t believe that our priority as parents is giving them the most comfortable life we can muster. Our priority as parents is to teach them how to follow Christ while navigating this world that is not our home.
  • Our marriage getting hurt. Becoming parents was challenging to our marriage. It was difficult. I cannot even imagine how much more difficult being foster parents is. I worry that we should say no until we get our marriage perfect and then we would be the best foster parents ever. But you know what? Our marriage is never going to be perfect. And if we wait until it is, we are never going to be foster parents. It will most certainly that we have to be more intentional, that we have to make decisions together and work through each trial that comes our way.
  • Getting Burnt out and having to quit/fail. Burn out happens. It’s not good. For anybody involved. It would throw a huge wrench in so many things. Our family life. Our marriage. Our ability to parent, both bio children and foster children. We would probably have to step back from responsibilities, maybe say no to foster children. And then and there I would feel like I’ve failed. Like I couldn’t do it. Like I’ve let everybody down, especially those children who so desperately need a loving home.
  • Change/The Unkown. Change is always hard. As a missionary kid, I know this particularly well. I know that my whole life is about to change. I’m about to go from a stay at home Mom of one to a foster Mom and bio Mom of who knows how many. I know that the children placed in my home will be going through incredibly difficult changes. Tera will have to adjust to a change. I think she will adore having siblings, but there are always those days where she just wants Mommy, and heaven forbid Mommy has to do anything else with her time. And there is always the fear that this will change us. Like, really change us. We will never have the same comfortable life anymore after we accept these children into our homes.

To all the preparedness-minded folks out there: Have I not commanded you be strong and corageous? Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9. | For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 Let these things guide your heart. Do not be fearful. Be powerful!

So there you have a little peek into my heart. I am not perfect, and I do have fears about this whole process. I don’t know what the outcome will be, and I have heard the horror stories, just like you have heard them. I have listed all the excuses possible, and in the end it turns out that God wants us to do this anyways. Even though I’m scared and some days I just don’t feel cut out for this. I’ve said this over and over again in my posts about foster care/adoption. God doesn’t call us to comfortable lives. Ok, sometimes are lives are comfortable and that is a gift from God, but our purpose on earth here is not to build comfortable lives. It’s to glorify Him. So I need to take these fears to HIM and remember that He knows my future, and the future of all the children that will be in our home.

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I’m linking this post up with Adoption Talk Link-Up. I would encourage you to hop over there and read through some of the other posts and bloggers there. I don’t have much to offer in the way of experience, but you can find a whole community of foster/adoption blogs and a great place to start is this link-up.

No Bohns About It