Monday, May 31, 2010

Uneasy, uncomfortable means growth...

"It comes as no surprise that finding families willing to open their doors to the rigors of foster parenting is so hard. Fostering means knowing about things most of us would prefer to forget. It means recognizing that our best is often not good enough. It means only knowing the difficult beginnings of a story and being forced to imagine the end. It means loving children who will ultimately leave us, then drying our tears and letting ourselves love again."
This book is exactly what I've been looking for. "Another Place at the Table" is written in the first person by a lady who, along with her husband, have fostered over 100 children over the course of 20 years. She highlights about 6 of the children she fostered and chose to tell their stories individually. I'll highlight those over the next few posts but I just wanted to share with you this quote that really, honestly, wholeheartedly opened my eyes to what it is we'll be dealing with. I will learn more about myself in the next 8 weeks of our foster parent classes than I probably have my entire life. I will recognize my limits and I will identify the uneasy, uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach means I'm growing as a person, as a future mama and foster mama. There will be points in our classes where Tyler and I will have to make changes to our original plan and that doesn't show our weaknesses it shows our ability to recognize what we are capable of offering these children.
Please continue to pray for our fundraising efforts for our domestic adoption. Please pray for us as we continue on the foster parenting route!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Focusing on the purpose of this journey...

I'm scared. I'm not gonna lie. I'm apprehensive, but curious. This process is a lot more involved and a lot more invasive than just a regular adoption (believe it or not). Because the original intent is to place these children with us temporarily they have to be extra cautious. They even want neighbor references! We're moving in about 5 weeks, and we don't really know our current neighbors...what does that say about us??? In my opinion, nothing, we live in a townhouse community and didn't have neighbors on either side for almost a year and a half but will they think that's weird? I guess what they're looking for is our neighbors to tell them if the cops are here all the time and if we have all night raves or something. I have to remain focused on the reasons why we're doing this, why we feel the need to do this. We both have a passion to help children who are in familial situations NOT of their choosing. The child did not choose who their parents would be, or that they'd have to be in foster care because none of their other family would take them. Whether or not I can pinpoint the exact moment where I thought to myself..."one day I want to be a foster mom", I can pinpoint multiple times in my life where I thought..."I want to help children with behavioral issues become who they really want to be in life, and not allow their sucky originating circumstances dictate their future". The purpose is to offer a stable home environment to a child who doesn't even know what that looks like. To offer love to a child who, once again, doesn't even know what that looks like....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gearing up for heatbreak...

How do you gear up for having your heart broken? It's inevitable with foster parenting, that's what Anna, our foster parenting class teacher (woah that's a lot of adjectives, I'll come up with a clever name for her in my next post) says. She also says that even with that heart ache and heart break she continues fostering, for the last 4 years to be exact. People like her inspire me to be a better person. I think about what my day looks like and compare it what her day looks like and I just feel like a putz! I mean she's dealing with situations that really matter in life, not what color polish someone wants to put on their toes or what color they want to dye their hair, but REAL things. Whether or not they'll go back to their mom and dad, or bounce from foster home to foster home. The statistics we heard tonight were mind blowing and humbling and in my opinion canNOT be ignored. 83% of children that come into care have been sexualized (sexually abused, seen a sexual act, viewed pornography). I can't process that. I'm so protected in my little "normal childhood" cocoon that this is just not a reality to me. This is happening. Children can't possibly be treated this way. No way.
I think these classes will really stretch me emotionally. If I'm shaken by just a few statistics tonight I can't imagine what it'll be like to hear the real stories and prepare myself for the possibilities of fostering children with MAJOR issues. Tyler not so much, because he used to be a therapist and has seen a lot when it comes to children being mistreated or in group homes. When I left tonight I didn't want to know more, but then I did, you know? It's weird. These next ten weeks will undoubtedly be the biggest learning experience of my life. More on that later...this woman can barely keep her eyes open.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This is it...

Tomorrow night's the night. Where we begin a journey into the true blue unknown! Where we learn to parent children that may not permanently be ours. That's weird. I'm excited to learn more, if you know anything about me (besides the fact that I'm stubborn, impatient, and scared of clowns) you know that I love to learn new processes...which is weird since I have a little bit of a learning disability. I can't wait to meet the people we'll go through these next 10 weeks with, and here a little more of their stories.
There's something about this path that just seems right. It feels like it's truly going to be our niche. I keep thinking about our house full of children, bursting at the seems! I love it. I asked Tyler last night if it freaked him out that we might go from zero to three kids in a year? He said "nope". Love it.
In other news regarding our domestic adoption, we're still waiting for another grant application to be processed. We should hear something mid June! HOORAY!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What if...

Since we've turned a corner with foster adopting of course I've done some research and tried to feed my brain with all the necessary (sometimes unnecessary) information. I've already had two people reach out to me to chat about their experience with foster parenting and adopting. There is such community with this, it's so encouraging. Everyone wants to discuss their experiences and trials and offer their advice, which I love. I never understand why people shy away from listening to advice. They should be flattered that someone used their breath and time to try and help them out. I have a lot of questions...and a lot of concerns, which I also had when we started out with adoption at first, these are just different.
What if I'm ill equipped to care for a child with some pretty severe emotional issues? What if we don't connect with our foster child? What if they don't connect with us? What if our friends and family don't support us? What if I fall completely in love and they go back to their first family? I should be happy about that right? Them reconciling and living a life accepted by the very people who helped create them. I know I mentioned before about childbirth and adoption being "risky" but why don't I just admit it? There's a risk when you get into your car and drive to work but there's a whole lot more risk putting a harness and a parachute on and jumping out of an airplane!
So here's what I'm thinking in response to those what ifs...
I'm married to someone who has their masters degree in counseling, and who has worked with children before who have been in foster care situations. He will teach me what I need to know and help me recognize my strengths in these situations.
Connections like these take time, we'll face the facts when or if it happens, but I'll have to be understanding towards any setbacks we may have.
I can't take it personally, I have to do what is in the best interest of that child (and maybe buy them candy, just kidding.)
Not everyone supported our decision to adopt, and not everyone will support our decision to foster adopt. We are doing what we feel is what God wants for our family, and to us nothing else matters. How many things does someone do in a lifetime where they are actually supported 100%? Exactly.
I will undoubtedly have a broken heart. I will take solace in the fact that I showed one little person enough love in a short amount of time, that if they ever find themselves in a deficit they will think back on the time with us and pull from that. I will take comfort in knowing they won't forget us.
I'm not going to lie. I'll be skeptical that the change the parents made isn't genuine, I will want to check up on them and make sure they are safe, but eventually after the success of the situation I will, of course, be happy that they could make it work for the sake of their child.
For you, future child, whether you're 2, 9, or 15 I'm willing to open my arms and my heart to YOU. Whether you love me back or not. Without condition.


P.s.
We are also continuing to raise money for our domestic adoption, we can do both!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nagging thoughts...

I know there has been a few times when I blog a good tangent or two, most of them have to deal with the unfair hands that children are dealt, whether its being born to a drug addict mother who loves her addiction too much to change herself to care for her child, or all of the orphaned children in Haiti, or in the world for that matter, and don't even get me started again on the children whose parents contract AIDS and have to give them away because they're going to die, and most certainly don't forget about the ones who can't have clean water so they die from contamination...what a stupid completely easy problem to fix. (yes I know that was a run on sentence). I just can't get "those" kinds of kids out of my brain...not even for a little bit. I think about my future family, mine and Tyler's future family for that matter, and it's just not conventional. I used to struggle with that, but in the last year I've come to accept the fact that our family will be different than most. Our children will be different ages, from different countries, different mothers, different colors, just different. In the beginning of this whole process we wanted to be as "conventional" as possible, adoption isn't conventional in the first place but you get what I'm saying. Pick a country. Pick an agency. Have them pick a child for us. Bring them home. Adjust. Love. Foster adoption has always been on my brain. I know people who have done it for a long time and who have managed to help children get through their adolescence with some sort of family in tact. I've known foster children, I've read about foster children, seen movies about foster children but I still wanted "conventional". For my sake. As a new mom, I wanted to try and get a little experience with it before I got all "unconventional". As it turns out, God wants us to be a little, nay a lot, more unconventional than we originally had intended. We are seriously considering foster adoption as our first ever means of being parents. We went to a meeting on Saturday night and had a lot of questions answered. They had pictures up of children who were available and I wanted to snatch them all, even if they were teenagers which most of them were. We realize people may think we're weird or that maybe we haven't thought this through. There may be family members who won't connect on levels that we'd like them to, or coworkers who probably think I've lost my marbles. What can I say? Deal with it. It's who we are as the Zielasko's, it's what we want for us right now, and what God wants for us right now. Yes there are risks, much bigger risks than any other kind of adoption BUT we all know how I feel about that .
Here's the truth as I know it. Every type of adoption is necessary, whether it's bringing a child from another country because their living conditions are horrifying, or adopting a child from a teenage mother, or recognizing the need a child has for some stability because their mother loves drugs and her abusive boyfriend more than them...they need me. They need my boring routines in life...my tucking them in at night...my pancakes I'd make them for breakfast...my Candy Land game playing...my understanding that they won't love me just the same as they love their bio family...my promise to be the best and maybe only parent they'd know their whole life...they need us, badly, and I've finally come to realize that I need them just as much.

Colossians 1:11 "We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy".

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A little truth...

I started to think today, because it's Mother's Day, that truly being a mom is a big freaking deal. I think about the things that my mom does even now for her adult children and I'm blown away about how your entire life is truly devoted to your children. I mean there are varying degrees I suppose, starting from changing, and feeding all the way up to listening and offering advice to your adult children, but seriously, a mother's job never ends. She's the first person I call when I need to know the difference between a rump roast or round roast...the one I call when when I can't think of that last ingredient, when things go bad, when things are good, when things are funny, when I want to complain, and when I want to cry. I can't wait until I've got someone on the other side of the phone or conversation that needs those useless but priceless pieces of information from me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

So...curiosity tried to kill the cat but it didn't work...

The cat typed an email to fab social worker about a few different changes the cat was making (minor things of course) and in the content of the email the cat may have asked fab social worker what the outcome of the little girl was. The cat couldn't help it...that's why the saying rings true, except for today. Fab social worker was bound legally and could not discuss what the outcome was. Boo said the cat...and then we she went on her merry way.