Sunday, February 5, 2012

Breaking Point

Well we are more than 1/2 way done with our training!  We have 2 more evenings (this Monday and Tuesday) and we'll be DONE!  Then on to our home study and writeup.  We still have about 3 more things to do on our "list," but hoping to get those done this week and next.  As you saw in my last post, our health/safety inspection was delayed because of our backyard renovation.  But, now that the yard is pretty much done, we should be able to schedule it next week.  For those that are not on facebook or haven't seen is what is looks like now:

flagstone rock with Mexican beach pebbles in between

We want to put in some plants, but that might not happen right away.  So other than some cleanup, it is pretty much done!  Dave's friend, AJ, and a few of his guys did a great job...I love how unique it is.

So at yesterday's training we were asked what I think is our hardest question yet - "What is my breaking point?"  Among other things, the person presenting, Lisa, is in charge of what are called "placement breakdowns."  This means that a family gets a placement and something happens that makes the adults say "that's enough, these kids need to leave."  Which means, after the trauma and craziness that has already happened in these kids' lives, they are once again moved to a different foster family who can hopefully "handle" them.  From her questions and obvious frustration (rightfully so), this apparently happens more than I'd like to think.  I know we haven't had any kids yet and have no idea what it's actually like, but this is so frustrating to think about.  I know there are situations where it's completely understandable and better for the kids if they are moved, but I don't get it.  Isn't this what you sign up for when you take kids into your home?  So, Lisa's point in asking everyone this question is that we would truly figure out what "type" of behaviors or kids that we would not be able to foster.  That way, when they are placing children in your home, they can find ones that are the best fit for your family and in doing this will hopefully prevent a placement breakdown.  Lisa said the top 2 answers were physical aggression and acting out sexually.  In our group, some of the answers were aggression towards animals, threatening the lives of other people in the family, and kids with special needs.  Our answer was nothing.  Lisa didn't like that.  She said there has been too many times where people have sat in our chairs and said "there is no kid I can't foster," and then the next thing she knows they are calling her with a breakdown.  So she pushed she should.  She said things like "what if they hurt your pets? what if they wipe feces on the walls? what if they are autistic? have downs syndrome? what if they act out sexually towards me (that one was directed toward Dave)?"  As I listened to her questions, of course I wanted to say "no thank you to all of those."  (Thinking of a kid hurting, or even killing, Clark or Roxy...are you kidding me??  I'm tearing up just thinking about it.)  Dave's response, of course, was "bring it on."  But isn't that stupid of us??  Shouldn't we set boundaries??  This is where I'm at today and I need your prayers. 

I know we are starting out and it would be smart of us to start with "easy" kids, but I feel guilty setting boundaries.  I feel like that is me not trusting that God will give us the right kids, and a situation that we can handle.  I feel like it's not fair that we get to "pick" our kids.  When you have biological kids you don't get to pick if your kids will have certain behaviors or disabilities.  You have no idea if they will grow up to be physically aggressive, or sexually active at a young age, or autistic, or defiant, or whiney.  And you certainly can't call someone with your biological kids and say "these aren't really working for our family, can I have different ones?"  So why should I get to pick?  Of course when you have biological kids you do choose the environment they grow up in and the care that you give them, so in that sense your kids are not "as likely" to have some of these behaviors that foster kids might have.  But God did not choose for us to have biological kids, right now.  So if we are trusting that His plan is good, then what do our boundaries look like?  Isn't that saying "ok God, I'll go down this path you are asking me to walk, but only to a certain point."  I understand that God probably isn't asking us to put ourselves on the altar for foster kids, but how do I know what we can and can't handle?  I want to be honest with myself so that we don't bring more trauma to a kid whose already been through so much.  I know Dave and I are committed to that, so I want to be realistic.  But I also know that we can probably "handle" more than some just because of my experience in working with special needs kids and Dave's willingness to handle any situation God gives him.  So if God has equipped us with these abilities, shouldn't we use them?  I honestly don't know what to do.  

For now, although I know Dave would be open to anyone and everyone (and I love him for that), I think we will set an age boundary of 0-10.  Even with that - do we know anyone with kids above the age of 5ish that could support us?  One of my friends that does foster care says that when you get babies the "stuff" pours in (clothes, diapers, food, gear, etc.), but as the age of kids you get gets older, the less stuff you get from your community.  Which sort of makes sense - the majority of our friends don't have "stuff" for 10 year olds.  So does it make sense to walk into something knowing that we will need support and probably not receive it?  Or, again, do we just trust that God will provide and not give us something that we can't handle. 

So...please pray for us as we think about and decide other boundaries that we might need to set, such as level of care (there are 4 levels of care based on the needs of the child...starting with basic, then moderate, etc.).  After talking with the same friend, I think I've decided that boundaries are good.  As she said - "boundaries are good in all areas of your life, so why not foster care?"  But I still struggle with feeling guilty about it, and mainly because it seems like I'm not trusting God if I set boundaries for us.  I think I need to let that go.  I think that is a pride issue, saying/thinking that I can do anything.  I know pride is going to be a slippery slope as we walk down this road of sacrifice, and I know I need to keep that in check.  I think I need to learn that it's okay to not be "open" to any kid right now.  I think it's okay to start out with "easy" kids with the intention of growing and being able to take on older and more difficult kids as we gain experience.  And when we get calls for kids that are pushing our boundaries, I know I need to learn how to say "no."  I know I have so much to learn, I just hope that it's not at the expense of the kids.  Again, I'm just praying and trusting that God's plan IS good for us and He will bring the right kids into our home.     

1 comment:

  1. For what it's worth, after working in adoption for a bit, I think that setting boundaries is a brave thing to do. Especially because sometimes it's scarier to say no to some things than it is to say yes to everything because saying no can create this huge what if. I don't think people always understand the struggle in being forced to identify boundaries before you have your child, and I think you do an amazing job sharing about it.

    Looking forward to continuing to read about how your story unfolds!